The Green Wall

EPUB EBook by James Wright

EBook Description

Pulitzer Prize winner James Wright is one of the defining voices of mid- EPUBcentury American Poetry. The Green Wall EPUB EBookHe wrote ofthe damned and dispossessed in the small river towns of Southeastern Ohio in musical verse filled with startling imagery and profound compassion.You will find all his qualities well displayed in The Green Wall, his first published book—except for the defining voice that made him great.

He was already thirty when he published The Green Wall, but it would take him another six years before that voice came to full flower in The Branch Will Not Break.If you consider Wright's background, however, the fact that he was a late bloomer is not surprising.

He was born in 1927 to a working class family of Martins Ferry that survived the Great Depression by building a local swimming pool with money from the WPA.Later, both his parents worked across the river in Wheeling, his mother in a White Swan laundry and his father as a die-cutter for Hazel-Atlas Glass.Neither of them went to school beyond the eighth grade.

James made it into high school, but he almost didn't make it out.He had a nervous breakdown when he was a sophomore, and he had to repeat a year. He greatly admired his teachers, however, everntually reserving his special praise for Helen McNeely Sheriff, his Latin teacher, whom he called “the most acute and intelligent teacher of literature I ever had.”This is high praise indeed, considering that Wright—benefiting from the GI Bill—would later be taught by John Crowe Ransom, Theodore Roethke, Stanley Kunitz and Randall Jarrell.

Wright had a great need of good teachers, and perhaps this accounts for why much of the poems in this first collection—composed almost exclusively of metered verse—sounds like his mentors. His long blank verse monologues sound like Frost channelled through Jarrell, his elaborate love lyrics remind one of Roethke, and his poems of death and beauty bear the unmistakeable stamp of Ransom—a major influence on Wright during his undergraduate years at Kenyon College.Even the few pieces of blank verse, which seem at first to be a harbinger of Wright's later style, sound a bit like Stanley Kunitz.

I don't mean to imply that his verse is nothing but derivative.There is always something in the music of each line that is Wright's own, and his dark vision of human weakness and his great compassion for suffering sinners is already fully developed.He sings to us about a prison escapee, a girl in a mental hospital who is trying to hide, a rapist and murderer on death row, and of a swimmer filled with grief because he has failed to save another boy from drowning.

I'll conclude with a few excepts, to give you an idea of the beauty that may be found in this collection.

From “She Hid in the Trees from the Nurses”:

But why must she desert the shade
And sleep between the walls all night?
Why must a lonely girl run mad
To gain the simple, pure delight

Of staying, when the others leave,
To write a name or hold a stone?

From “My Grandmother's Ghost”

Even before she reached the empty house
She beat her wings ever so slightly, rose,
Followed a bee where apples blew like snow
And then, forgetting what she wanted there,
Too full of blossom and green light to care,
She hurried to the ground and slipped below.

From “A Poem about George Doty in the Death House”:

Caught between sky and earth,
Poor stupid animal,
Stripped naken to the wall,
He saw the blundered birth
Of daemons beyond sound.
Sick of the dark, he rose
For love, and now he goes
Back to the broken ground.

Like this book? Read online this: Steve Wright's Book of the Amazing But True, Green Heart (Green Angel, #1-2).

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