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On Traveling Standing Still

Edmund Wilson

still.jpg (62266 bytes)The impression of [Genevieve] Taggard that one gets from [Traveling Standing Still] is a little unexpected. If one had tended vaguely to confuse her with a familiar school of women poets--the school which one of their number has recently herself described as the "Oh-God-the-Pain Girls"--Miss Taggard has excluded from this book anything that might encourage it. . . .

What we . . . get is a poet of our common human experience who, despite her fastidious and busy mind, which embroiders it sometimes like lace, stitching it in and out, is singularly close to the ground. Whatever she may say in her bitterer moments--expressing herself in the admirable verses of "The Quiet Woman" and "Dissonance Then Silence"--she accepts what life brings her as natural and right. It is this that has made it possible for her to write, in the piece called "With Child," the only respectable poem on child bearing that I remember ever to have seen. The point is that the poet here does not, as is so often the case, repudiate or war with the woman. And even "B.C.," where the note is tragic, in warning the mother of Jesus that he will have to face "only agony and another loss of your being" in order to bring forth "an angelic shadow," her tone is not itself agonized, but rather one of sympathetic comprehension and resignation to the common lot. . . .

. . . With her eager intellectual appetite, she has devoured our ideas and techniques but she has scarcely been touched by the megrims, the nausea-fits, the moods of sterility that nowadays so often go with them. One looks forward to seeing her take her place as a self-dependent poetic personality, in some ways essentially different from any that we already know.

[December 12, 1928]

from Edmund Wilson, The Shores of Light: A Literary Chronicle of the Twenties and Thirties (New York: Farrar, Straus and Young, 1952) 345-350.

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