Last week I pointed to a New Republic review of a new collection of the letters of Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop. The book, Words In Air, won’t be out till the end of the month, but until then you can find a nice sampling of the letters in the October issue of Poetry (unfortunately not available online).
I’ve read much of Bishop’s side of the correspondence in One Art but it’s even more enjoyable to read her letters alongside Lowell’s own volleys and sallies. The letters are little gems, and I’m tempted to type them all in here, but in lieu of copyright larceny I’ll give you this sauntering paragraph from one of Lowell’s:
Since my last letter it has become autumnal (nice but muggy) and I’ve read Black Arrow, Weir of Hermiston, The Master of Ballantrae, and Graves’ abridgement of David Copperfield. Saw Black Arrow as a movie too — it’s a cumbersome pot-boiler at best, but redone with the plot of a western thriller it is, is — words fail me. Had a drunken discussion with two Englishmen in which I tried to use the Socratic method, but only discovered that none of us could define “right” or “good.” And finished off 23 more poets; God, how I dislike them!