Picks and Pans Review: Poems, 1912-1944

UPDATED 09/01/1980 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 09/01/1980 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Eugene O'Neill

"Is it all off twixt I and you?/Will you go and wed some other gent?/The things I done, I'd fain undo/Since thou hast went." "Will Wood last out? Will Marquard blow? /Is Matty still there with the science?/Can Speaker wallop Jeff. Tesreau?/In brief, which is it, Sox or Giants?" That romantic doggerel and the ode to the 1912 World Series come from the O'Neill whose dark, pain-riven dramas like The Iceman Cometh and Long Day's Journey into Night are among America's greatest. Donald Gallup, a curator at Yale's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, has illuminated a little-known side of the playwright, collecting all his published poems and many private ones. His sappy early verses, written to various lady friends or for the New London Telegraph, show none of the slangy force of his stage dialogue. But his sea poems are graceful, the later love poems moving and the introspective verse written before his death in 1953 bears the creative energy O'Neill pulled from despair: "So am I isolate/Inviolate/Untouchable/Bitterest of all, ungivable/Unable to bestow/Break from my solitude/A lonely gift/ Myself." (Ticknor & Fields, $9.95)

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