Stanley Kunitz is one of America’s best “unknown” 20th Century poets—“unknown” in quotation marks because even Americans who claim to be “into poetry” often have never heard of him…since the man was Poet Laureate of the United States on two separate occasions, he can’t really be called unknown, I suppose. In 1930, he released his first collection of poetry, entitled Intellectual Things. I’m curious to hear what you think of him, and in particular, his poem “Organic Doom”:
The brain constructs its systems to enclose
The steady paradox of thought and sense;
Momentously its tissued meaning grows
To solve and integrate experience.
But life escapes closed reason. We explain
Our chaos into cosmos, cell by cell,
Only to learn of some insidious pain
Beyond the limits of our charted hell,
A guilt not mentioned in our prayers, a sin
Conceived against the self. So, vast and vaster
The plasmic circles of gray discipline
Spread outward to include each new disaster.
Enormous floats the brain’s organic bloom
Till, bursting like a fruit, it scatters doom.