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Emergence of a Bahá'í Consciousness in World Literature:
The Poetry of Roger White

by Ron Price

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Chapter 2


Roger White would have liked George Bernard Shaw's views on biography. The facts of writers' lives, wrote Shaw, have no more to do with their writing ability than the shape of their nose. White used to quote Rabindranath Tagore on this biographical theme: 'the poem not the poet,' as Tagore put the theme succinctly. White felt that his life was, to use Shaw's words, biographically uninteresting. I don't think, though, that White's life, among those lives of the other minor poets to whose ranks he himself claimed to belong, could be said to be so unvarying and, therefore, so uninteresting. White did not want to diminish his work by restoring it to the particularities of what he felt was his mundane biographical context. And so there is little here of what that significant biographer and poet in our early modern period, Samuel Johnson, referred to as "domestic privacies" and "the minute details of daily life."[1]

I'm sure White felt about his future biography somewhat the way Mark Twain felt about Shakespeare's biography: "an Eiffel tower of artificialities rising sky-high from a very flat and thin foundation of inconsequential facts, a fifty-seven foot high brontosaur that looks convincing enough in the natural history museum but is made of six hundred barrels of plaster of paris and maybe only 'nine old bones.'"[2] He did not feel the same way about his poetry, although he does not appear to have had Walt Whitman's grandiose sense of destiny and overriding purpose about his poems. His was a more moderate sense of self-worth. But, like W.H. Auden, he was inclined to the view that an artist's private life sheds little light on his works. But like Auden, too, he would have been willing to bend the rule given the right circumstances. Of course, during his life White did not have to fend off biographers standing in line to write his story. I certainly don't have enough information about White's life to provide the kind of story White's life deserves, although Anne Gordon Perry has gathered a collection of White's letters and, if the right circumstances can be arrived at serendipitously and through Perry's insight into that collection, then White lovers will soon be able to read the first stab at a biography of White.[3] The chief source material for biographers is often their subjects' letters[4] or a diary. White was a most prolific letter writer and, for me anyway, his poetry serves as a type of diary. If any biographical skyscraper is to be built on White's land, his letters will provide the architecture.

Literary critic, J.V. Cunningham, once said of the poet E.A. Robinson that he was "a man almost without biography." [5] I don't think White would have put it that strongly vis-à-vis his own life, but that was the sort of emphasis White wanted to give to his day-to-day life and, more importantly, that was the sort of emphasis he wanted his readers to give to it. I address myself to some extent to what White saw as his quiet and uneventful life,[6] to the events behind his character and personality and to the tough fibre that was his life as a writer. I hope that readers will like and respect White more, find him clearer as a human being, as a result of the glimpse I have provided into his life story and his poetry. I hope, in the process, to deepen the understanding of White's art. But my purpose is not, in the main, to correct or refine taste, as T.S. Eliot said was the purpose of the literary theorist.[7] Nor is my purpose to provide evidence for a thesis. What I write issues out of the pleasure I take in reading White's poetry and the belief that, as Robert Hayden once put it, "Poetry does make something happen, for it changes sensibility." Biographer Frederick Glaysher elaborates: "Such change, incontrovertibly spiritual in nature, is the prerequisite for any transformation in the objective, quotidian world."[8] I hope I bring to this exercise what the true father of English practical criticism John Dryden(1631-1700) said was the "primary qualification of the good practical critic-the ability to read the work under consideration with full and sympathetic understanding."[9] I hope that I also bring a secondary qualification to my critic's role, a qualification which Dryden thought was important for any critic to possess; namely, the ability to communicate my relish and enjoyment of White's work and thereby help the reader enjoy his poetry in a similar vein. It is difficult, though, to rationally explain the effect of a poem on one's mind and emotions.

But insofar as White's inner world is concerned, a world largely inaccessible to biographers except through speculation, it is my view that White's poetry comes closest to revealing its true nature. Of course, letters can be very useful in revealing the nature of a person's inner life and I leave that to Perry, as I indicated above. Mark Twain expressed some of my skepticism regarding the extent to which a person's outer life, their actions and their conversation are a revelation of their true nature. Twain says they are just "the clothes and buttons of the man." Twain continued:

What a wee little part of a person's life are his acts and words! His real life is led in his head and is known to none but himself. All day long, and every day, the mill of his brain is grinding, and his thoughts, not those other things, are his history. His acts and his words are merely the visible, thin crust of his world--and they are so trifling a part of his bulk....The mass of him is hidden.

Twain expatiates at great length on this theme and it reminds me in some ways of what has become an oft'-quoted passage of Shoghi Effendi:

One thing and only one thing will unfailingly and alone secure the undoubted triumph of this sacred Cause, namely, the extent to which our own inner life and private character mirror forth in their manifold aspects the splendour of those eternal principles proclaimed by Bahá'u'lláh.[10]

Perhaps the real person is quintessentially a mystery. If so, my intention is to explore that mystery through White's poetry. My focus is not on some complex of internal and self-referential relations, some theory of psychoanalysis. I'm not trying to focus my gaze on the inaccessible inner reaches of the authorial psyche. I'm not trying to get inside White's head. I try to understand White the man in a way he wanted to be understood: through his poetry. For the most part, I leave to biographers the question of the poet's character formation and the peculiarities of his personality as they take shape over a lifetime. I hope in the process to give White what Auden said "every author hopes to receive from posterity--a hope usually disappointed--justice."[11]

White's life may have been much like Jane Austen's novels: nothing much happens but you eagerly turn the page of his literary life waiting for what happens next. For the drama of White's life was in some ways like Lord Acton's, only on a different scale. That drama was a drama of ideas. Just as Acton's life illustrates the influence that powerful minds, past and present, exerted over his development,[12] so does White's, only in his case the powerful minds were those of two manifestations of God and Their chosen successors who passed by before and during his lifetime, and some very impressive individuals in the first century and a half of the religion he became associated with in his late teens.

The whole of creation, Bahá'u'lláh writes, "was revolutionized and all that are in the heavens and on the earth were stirred to the depths."[13] In 1921 T.S. Eliot expressed this change as a 'dissociation of sensibility.'[14] Others have called it a paradigm shift. Society has not recovered; indeed, the tempest is still with us. For this writer, White is but one of the multitude of manifestations of this quite complex and profound shift, as it was expressed in poetry,[15] in the early epochs of the Formative Age and, in particular, the tenth stage of history when the charismatic Force that gave birth to the Bahá'í Faith was fully institutionalized.[16]

I see myself very much like the type of literary critic that Eliot calls 'the advocate:' to help readers find merit in what they once overlooked, to find charm in what may have been first experienced as a certain tedium vitae or boredom, to remind others that there is a depth there in White's poetry that simply must be tapped and simply to express my gratitude to White, posthumously, on behalf of many of the lovers of White's poetry. There are no explicit canons of criticism. What is needed is a meeting of the author's intention and the critic's appreciation. "Worthwhile criticism," writes Herbert Read, has as its basis "pathos, sympathy and empathy."[17] To some extent, too, this commentary is a by-product of my own creative activity. As 'Abdu'l-Bahá said many times, the reality of man is his thought and it is White's thought that this book is devoted to, for the most part. Here is White's thinking talking to you. I hope that the reason readers want to know more about White's life is that they care for his poetry and are interested in his thinking. If Robert Pinsky is right about what constitutes good poetry over poetry that is dross, namely, that it will admit abstract statement,[18] then White's poems are good ones. They certainly tell you what he is thinking with a fair portion of abstract thought.

I was able to piece together a basic outline of White's life. I sent it to him for his approval two years before he passed away. He made two or three minor corrections of fact and returned it. It was obvious to me that White was disinclined to provide more than he already had done about his life. "If you want to know about me, read what I have written," seemed to be his position, his view, on writing about his life.
I have done so and enjoyed White's poetry with the relish of a starved palate. Now I hope I can accomplish what the twentieth century's great poetry critic Randall Jarrell
said was the critic's aim: "to show to others what the critic saw in what he read."[19] Inevitably readers here will be exposed to the defects of my own sensibility, prejudices and idiosyncrasies as well as a substantial body of analysis and evaluation of White's poetry. For the most part I do not dwell on the intricacies with which White's mind negotiates with its surroundings to produce what I find deeply satisfying poetry. For the most part I do not occpy myself with the nature of the connection between White's personality and his poetic imagination. I leave that to the more biographically inclined student. I am content to explore the poetry, the world that is contained in White's poetry and its meanings. Even then, I only explore a small part of his oeuvre. Poetry, in some ways, is the attempt to organize through the imposition of language raw human perception, the flux and mess of experience. I examine a very small part of White's specific perceptions, specific experience, specific poems and the examination is largely tentative. It is just an initial exploration of the territory. Perhaps it will stimulate others to journey into White's land, to follow his path, to continue beyond these first studies in these early stages of what I am confident will become 'the White industry.'

If you had met White at any time in his adult life, say after his marriage in 1954 at the age of twenty-five, the man you would have seen is one that I have only the most vague impression of. It is an impression I have gathered from several photographs and from the several letters I received: a short, slender fellow, thin and bird-like, a serious countenance, a ready smile, a quick-wit, but since I never met Roger White, since I have no observations of others at my fingertips and since White himself wanted me to focus on his poetry what readers have here is poetic evaluation as a type of philosophical activity. It is an activity as Lord Acton once described it: something concerned with "the latent background of conviction, discerning theory and habit, influences of thought and knowledge, of life and descent."[20] I find it helpful to be able to connect White's poetry with his life, but I cannot go as far as the literary critic Emilio Roma III who wrote that "a critic will get at the meaning of a poem if and only if he does connect it with the poet's life....he must use this material if he is to be a good critic."[21] Neither can I go to the other extreme, as far as Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault as far back as the 1950s and in the United States since the 1970s, where literary criticism has set itself the aim of erasing the author as an entity and "treating the text as a bloodless, authorless orphan."[22] Readers so influenced by this approach to the study of literature in a spirit of aggressive demystification--and I think this approach has its place--will find my approach somewhat "belletristic" and retro. But to others, to the community of poets and readers of White's poetry, I hope this community finds what I write an encouragement to take criticism and evaluation of poetry back into their own hands. The study of literature, prose and poetry, does not need to be only arcane and for some literary elite. It can be for everyman and he can still do his gardening, fix the car and watch movies. I like to think White's poetry can and will spread far and wide because, for many, his work is free of that "narrow and dull decorum" with its studied plainness which Robert Breslin saw as having "spread over most, though not all, poetry in America."[23]

I take some comfort in the words of the nineteenth century English essayist William Hazlitt who thought we could know too much about a person. Hazlitt wrote that "the more evidence about a person you accumulate the more complex and difficult it is to 'know' someone. Interest and prejudice take away the power of judging, especially of those we love. The harder and longer you look, the more impossible it becomes to attain knowledge of others. Actual qualities do not conform to any factitious standard in the mind but, rest upon their own truth and nature."[24] It is difficult, as Virginia Woolf once put it, describing the process of creating biography, to describe some seamless whole around the life of anyone, some "granite-like solidity of truth" and some "rainbow-like intangibility of personality."[25] And so I do not try, nor does White even want us to try. I do not try to portray or to shape White's life; I do not strain to define his identity; I do not describe from the outside some wholeness nor view his life from the inside in all its bits and pieces. I do not run after the unity of White's person. I accept that unity, as Alfred North Whithead expressed it, namely, as an "inescapeable fact." I find Whitehead's view of personal unity helpful in connection with whatever remarks I may make about White:

Personal unity is a perplexed and obscure concept. We must conceive it as the receptacle, the foster-mother as I might say, of the becoming of our occasions of experience. This personal identity is the thing which receives all occasions of the man's existence. It is there as a natural matrix for all transitions of life, and is changed and variously figured by the things that enter it; so that it differs in its character at different times. Since it receives all manner of experiences into its own
unity, it must itself be bare of all forms. We shall not be far wrong if we describe it as invisible, formless, and all-receptive. It is a locus which persists.[26]

The literary critic Edmund Wilson and others of his school who employ psychology and sociology in their study of literature inform us of the immense complexity and subtlety of the task of relating writers' lives to their works. The latter is not simply a variation on the former; each throws light on the other. Wilson prefers to work from the writer's life to his work, but more technical psychological criticism often works the other way. This is not so much of a problem if we know a great deal about a person's life. In the case of White, Wilson and his school are of little help.

It is the role of biography to describe the contours of this highly problematic receptacle and in the process portray character, render personality, place the individual in a sequence of culturally patterned relationships. That is not my role.
I find that man and milieu, idea and context meet somewhat haphazardly on street corners: in Akka, in Haifa, in Toronto, in Belleville, in Tehran and around the corner from where I live. I am not concerned with where the cameras were pointed, at what the newspapers said, how White might have appeared on TV or on the radio or the contradictions that inevitably arise from the multitude of views that people have of anyone and of White in particular. I am writing about a media event, but it is in the print media. I am not trying to transform a selection of ephemeral events and scattered accidents into some fixed documentary with reportorial authority. I am not trying to recreate White, although I must confess to a certain impulse toward elegy, toward commemoration. The fertile, the creative, facts that suggest and engender and that I am after are not in White's life but in his poetry. This is no exercise in 'mere impressionism,' as David Daiches calls the simple setting forth of an autobiographical response in the place of critical assessment of a work, a literary oeuvre.[27] Autobiography is not literary evaluation.

The biography of a man whose adventures are played out silently under his brain cupola is a literary labour of another order.[28] When a life is not crowded with incident and adventure, when a biographer can not compile external excitements but must rely on inner greatness of spirit and on quite complex phenomena the challenge facing that biographer is greater. For the complexity of White and the phenomena associated with his poetry resides in factors like: who readers have gradually become by reading his verse; how his communication with readers is achieved; the exhuberance of his language and its appeal to our intellect and feelings; and his political poetry which overtly attempts to reveal connections between the feelings-the inner life-of the individual and objective social/historical facts.[29] To keep the poet and his poetry together, the doer and the deeds into one sober set of facts, under these conditions, and make it an interesting read for the public is beyond this writer. I do not see my role as an attempt to protect White, now that he has died, from "malice, obtrusive sentiment or vain curiosity,"[30] to use the words of one of Thackeray's memorialists; nor is my role to show and tell all. I show and tell very little really of White the man: whatever harmonies and disharmonies there may have been, whatever warts and all he may have had, whatever achievements he may have had while serving on a multitude of committees, assemblies and groups doing a myriad projects, assignments and activities as part of an embryonic Order, as an adolescent, a husband, a single man, a friend, indeed in one of any numbers of roles he had in life. I am not trying to save him for future generations. I am trying to put his poetry in perspective. I am trying to paint a mosaic in which White's poetry, its intimate imagery with so many of the historical landscapes associated with the birth and development of his religion-and ours-coexist as equal expressivities within a pattern. My aim is not to describe or embody in words some personal coherence of White the poet, like a Renaissance painting. If anything my style is more cubist. I come at White from a thousand directions, just brushing his side, touching his hair, taking a fertive look, as I hit his poetry with everything I've got. It's the hit of a baseball out of the ball park or a golf ball on a long putt right into the hole. That is my aim. Sadly I often strike out or settle for an eagle. For I am no professional. I am simply someone who loves White's poetry.

White approved, in the two years immediately before his passing, a collection of a dozen or so essays, essays which focused on his poetry not his life, his words not his life story. Put slightly differently, this same focus on the art not the artist was expressed by George Painter in his biography of Proust. "Tell me anything," Painter wrote, "which I could not find more intensely, acceptably and deeply in Proust's works." Biography would only provide meagre details of Proust--and White. In White's poetry the reader can find his personal analysis, his introspective pondering, his inner self. His poetry, he felt, could and should stand on its own. It is the thread joining his life's occasions of experience. It is the way he discovers and clarifies his vision. It is a vision far removed from every ting of partisanship and politics but "wholly devoted to the interests of all mankind."[31]

I'd like to say a little more about White's politics. The words of poet Carolyn Forche are useful here. Forche writes that "the quality of a poem is dependent on the quality of its engagement, a high degree of commitment." This is part of what she calls the poet's "ideological stance." The time to determine one's politics is the "whole of one's life. We are responsible for the quality of our vision, we have a say in the shaping of our sensibility. In the many thousand daily choices we make, we create ourselves and the voice with which we speak and work."[32] This comes close to expressing the type of politics White was concerned with in his poetry. By the time White had become an adult he had been exposed to what was clearly a Bahá'í definition of the political. It was concerned with building a new Order and White worked within that Order in different capacities for nearly fifty years.

I think it is impossible to get a comprehensive, a coherent picture of White from his poetry.[33] With some people, usually writers, there is a tendency to describe and record everything in their lives. This tendency gives a biographer a fighting chance. Virginia Woolf and Bertrand Russell were two such people. White did not put it all down. He put 'the love and madness of life,'[34] as Woolf called life's travail and adventure, into his poetry. But I do not attempt to knot up the incoherences of White's life into some theoretical coherence. This is no psychoanalytic exercise, however probing it may try to be. White knew and experienced a great deal but I apporach this knowledge, this experience, through his poetry, not through what happened to him. If readers want an entertaining yarn about an interesting Bahá'í who lived in the last half of the twentieth century, they must go elsewhere.

White kept no diary and so we do not have a detailed picture of his life, what Stendal called the "excessive pile of I's and Me's.'[35] Prose was not a sufficient vehicle for White, although he certainly made use of it in his letters and in his craft as editor. The miraculous gift that makes an artist, a poet, remains a mystery, however near he may be brought to us by our need to understand him and his work.[36] His poetry, though, belongs to all lovers and appreciators of literature, whoever and whereever they are, even if the best critics of poetry are the poets as Seneca argued two thousand years ago and as T.S. Eliot stated the case in our own time. There is a basic unity to White's work, a unity that is difficult to define, except to say that White gives us Life itself, the Word and the World seen from a particular point of view by a North American Bahá'í during the second, third and fourth epochs of the Formative Age.[37]

Readers will find here in these essays a personal, unsystematic, eclectic kind of criticism, creating as it moves a tone, an atmosphere, that reflects in various ways the special qualities of Roger White and his writing as well as my own qualities, preferences and prejudices. I do not try to demonstrate with analytic precision the presence of any given quality in White's poetry; I respond to the achieved work rather than engaging in some technical demonstration.[38] I like to think there is an atmosphere of the study, for that is where I've done all my writing. The chairs are comfortable, the walls lined with books, some Bach or Beethoven is playing. I, like White, "Draw my chair beside the fire and/Gather silence to me./I wind my thoughts in knotless skein,/Unspoken mile by mile,-/A league from immortality/Lay down my wool and smile."[39] And, in the process, I draw closer to Emily Dickinson in his poetic evocation The Figure in White; or perhaps I draw closer to myself.

White was more than ready to respond to the analysis of his poetry written by others, even though he himself wrote little about his own life and little about his poetry. The essays which I wrote and sent to him about his life and his poetry were returned quickly with the occasional comment and a general appreciation and enthusiasm for what I had written. A dozen years later, in 2002, I revised these essays. It is these revisions which appear in this book. The result of this playing down of the biographical was that I never felt I was living in White's skin, only in his poetry and in the wonder of consciousness that emanated from his mind. In my essays I try to emphasize understanding White's poetry and to avoid the danger of slipping into endless explanation. Criticism in literature is not a science, however theoretically based it may be. There are no established canons or standards of criticism today as the Greeks once developed in the fourth century BC in Aristotle's Poetics. I try not to overemphasize enjoyment and the impressionistic and so avoid making poetry a mere amusement and pastime. There's a balance, I think, between the overlaping categories of understanding and enjoyment, analysis and impressionistic response. I trust I have preserved the balance, one that is often defined in our culture as that between entertainment and education. It seems to me there is an essential key, though, to the deeper understanding of a man's poetry to be found in his life, in spite of what White says. I toy with that key in this book while accepting the premise of Carlyle's biographer Froude that "every person is a mystery even to those closest to him."[40]

I have never written to anyone who responded with such haste to my letters. These were the last days before e-mail began to move communications electronically faster than a speeding bullet. His correspondence was humorous and engaging. One of the affects of his letters was to make me want to dip into his poetry more frequently. As I came to enjoy the man behind the poems, I came to enjoy the poems even more. I never actually met Roger. We exchanged letters for a dozen years: 1981 to 1993, years when his poetry reached out to the wide audience that he enjoyed for the last decade or more of his life. He died in April 1993 at the age of sixty-three. I have included a sample of our correspondence because it tells about the man in a way that his poetry does not. In the main, though, I have left White's correspondence to Anne Gordon Perry whose new book I trust will be on book shelves in the next year or so.

The sample of letters I do deal with, though, is partly my concession to the biographical. My aim, too, is to convey some of the joy or delight that is produced by reading White. "Poetry only gives joy," though, writes Herbert Read, "in proportion to the understanding we bring to it and our understanding must be of the most universal and intuitive kind." [41] White was more than a little conscious of what Sir Philip Sidney once called: "man's erected wit and his infected will."[42] His letters, at least the ones I received are a tribute to his "erected wit." Indeed, given the human propensity and need for, and pleasure taken in, laughter, it will not surprise me if White is remembered more for his wit than his wisdom. For he is par excellence the entertainer.

Shelley saw the poet and the man writing the poetry as having two quite different natures. I find that sometimes they blend and sometimes they occupy two quite separate worlds. I can only partly agree with Shelley, but what I do in these essays and what Roger White would have preferred me to do, is to focus on his poetry or, to use Shelley's idiom, I focus on the poet and the poetry not the man. White was only too aware of most people's preferred interest in the man, the personality behind the poetry. He was prepared to admit that biographies were not only inevitable but that they were desireable. But such a concession he would have surrounded with a host of reservations and warnings.[43] He would have been the first to admit that biographies are worthy of cultivation because they can enchain the heart by their irresistible interest and diffuse instruction by their diversity of form. But 'not about him' he would add, if you gave him the last word. At any rate White would have been pleased with any attempt to discuss intelligently his poetic opus. For he would have agreed with Daiches that "A civilization is judged by its amateurs, by the degree to which intelligent non-experts can discuss with sense and understanding the phenomena of their culture....not too far removed from ordinary readers of literature."[44]

I wrote the preface to White's last major book of poetry Occasions of Grace(1992). This preface focused on his poetry not his biography. And I do it again, here, in what is a more extensive and, I feel, a more deserving way, a decade after his passing. The timing seems right. The 'White industry' has had a quiet beginning, not an unusual one, though, for a poet. There is not yet a Collected Poems for White. For someone starting out to read, to imagine and meditate upon White's verse, the journey will be demanding. The exercise would be something like setting out to explore the planet. For anyone who is already familiar with some of his poems the new ones and the new books of his poetry will fit well into their existing pattern. I have spent years on White's poems, at least twenty during which I have examined them in some detail, underlining, making notes and watching two of the volumes that I came to cherish gradually fall apart as the binding deteriorated. I hope this time and effort, personal pleasure and profit, will in turn be of use to those who want to know more about White's poetry. For White crystallizes much of the amorphous nature of our existence, not by providing information but by a direct apprehension of the nature of reality and the significance of life. The process by which he achieves this is his style and a certain grace and clarity of performance. In the process he creates his own universe. Occasionally I refer to it as Whiteland.

"The point of a biography" writes Ray Monk in a recent biography of Bertrand Russell, "is no more and no less than to understand its subject. But a biography is not a "necessary precondition for understanding a body of work." [45] Ray Monk, Shaw and White saw a distinction between life and work . And they would have placed the focus on the work. The work was always there to illumine the life; in fact the life could not really be understood without understanding the role played in the life and the imagination by the work. And I would add, in conclusion, that the exercise of sympathy on the part of the critic must meet and mingle with White's own predominant passions and concerns in his poetry, in his work, if his intellectual life is to be discerned, if the music of his soul is to be described, as Herder defined poetry.[46]
I trust that readers will easily detect my sympathy meeting and mingling with White's work in the chapters that lie ahead.

My general aim could very well be a motto attributed to T.S. Eliot in his practical criticism and study of poetry: "Study the craft, follow the process and read constructively."[47] In doing this in the essays which follow I try to strike a balance between making comments on individual poems and making them on the entire corpus of White's poetry. The extent to which I achieve this balance is the extent to which my own response to the poetry of Roger White is full and complete.[48] The analytical criticism and the more intellectual and complicated poetry that developed after WW1 was part of a major change of taste in poetry. White's poetry is not overly complicated and my criticism is far from the bewildering obscurity of much of contemporary criticism. I trust the reader will find here a moderate middle ground.

[1] Samuel Johnson in Justin Kaplan, "The Real Life," Studies in Biography, Harvard UP, Cambridge, Mass., 1978, p.1.
[2] Justin Kaplan, op.cit., p.5.
[3] Anne Gordon Perry, Yours, Roger: The Correspondence and Influence of Roger White, unpublished manuscript, 2002.
[4] W.H. Auden expresses this view in his introduction to a biography by E.M. Forster of G.L. Dickinson.
[5] Sven Birkerts, "An Artificial Wilderness: Essays on Twentieth Century Literature," Magill's Literary Annual: Books of 1987, Vol.1, p.68.
[6] The life of a writer is often uniform and uneventful due to the fact that the profession of writing obliges the writer to devote a certain number of hours a day to his work. Somerset Maugham makes this comment in his 10 Novels and Their Authors(Mercury Books, London, 1963(1954), p.133.
[7] T.S. Eliot in English Poetry, Leone Vivante, Southern Illinois UP, Carbondale, 1963(1950), p.v.
[8] Robert Hayden in Frederick Glaysher, "Literature's Cracked Mirror," World Order, Spring 1983, p.47. Online at
[9] David Daiches, Critical Approaches to Literature, 2nd edition, Longman, London, 1981(1956), P.183.
[10] Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p.66.
[11] W.H. Auden in Edward Mendelson, "Authorized Biography and Its Discontents," Studies in Biography, Daniel Aaron, editor, Harvard UP, Cambridge, Mass., 1978, p.26.
[12] John Clive, "English 'Cliographers,'" Studies in Biography, Daniel Aaron, editor, Harvard UP, Cambridge Mass., 1978, p.29.
[13] Bahá'u'lláh, Prayers and Meditations, Baha'I Pub. Trust, Wilmette, Illinois, 1969, p.295.
[14] T.S. Eliot in A Mirror For Modern Scholars, L.A. Beaucline, editor, Odyssey Press, 1966, p.268.
[15] Literary historians point to the first two decades of the twentieth century as the beginning of this paradigm shift in poetry, particularly in the works of Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot.
[16] Copy of talk given in Chicago in 1953 on behalf of Shoghi Effendi outlining, among other things, the ten stages of history.
[17] Herbert Read, Poetry and Experience, Vision Press, London, 1967, p.9.
[18] Robert Pinsky in Jonathan Holden, Style and Authenticity in Postmodern Poetry, University of Michigan Press, Columbia, 1986, p.50.
[19] Randall Jarrell in "Hunger for Excellence, Awakening Hunger in His Readers: Review of Jarrell's 'The Third Book of Criticism,'" Helen Vendler, January 4, 1970, p.1.
[20] Herbert Read, op.cit. p.11.
[21] Emilio Roma III "The Scope of the Intentional Fallacy," On Literary Intention: Critical Essays, editor, D. Newton-De Moliria, Edinburgh UP, 1976, p.79.
[22] Richard Tillinghast, Robert Lowell's Life and Work: Damaged Grandeur, The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 1995, pp.1-2.
[23] Robert Breslin in Jonathan Holden, op.cit., p.58.
[24] Graham Good, William Hazlitt, The Observing Self: Rediscovering the Essay, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1988, pp.82-3.
[25] Virginia Woolf in Life into Art: Conversations with Seven Contemporary Biographers, Gail P. Mandell, University of Arkansas Press, London, 1991, p.3.
[26] A.N. Whitehead, "Hanging Up Looking Glasses at Odd Corners," Studies in Biography, Daniel Aaron, editor, Cambridge, Mass., 1978, p.50.
[27] David Daiches, op.cit., p.269.
[28] Charles Baudelaire in "Strangeness and Beauty: An Anthology of Aesthetic Criticism 1840-1910," Vol.1, Ruskin to Swinburne, Cambridge UP, NY, 1983, p.193.
[29] Jonathan Holden defines 'political poetry' this way in his Style and Authenticity, op.cit., p.83.
[30] Daniel Aaron, editor, Studies in Biography, Harvard UP, Cambridge, Mass., 1978, p.vii.
[31] Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p.24.
[32] Carolyn Forche in Jonathan Holden, op.cit., p.75.
[33] After more than fifty years of critical analysis of the poetry of T.S. Eliot Robert H. Canary(T.S. Eliot: The Poet and His Critics, American Library Association, Chicago, 1982, p.2.) a coherent picture of arguably the greatest twentieth century poet is not available.
[34] Ray Monk, Bertrand Russell: The Spirit of Solitude, Vintage, London, 1997, p.xvii.
[35] Stendal in Desperate Storytelling, Roger Solomon, University of Georgia Press, London, 1981, p.42.
[36] See The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. XXI(1927-1931), The Hogarth Press Ltd., London, 1961, p.211.
[37] 1944-1963, 1963-1986, 1986-2001: 2nd, 3rd and 4th epochs, respectively.
[38] David Daiches discusses this type of literary criticism in his Critical Approaches to Literature, 2nd edition, Longman, London, 1981(1956), p.286.
[39] Roger White, One Bird One Cage One Flight, pp.82-3.
[40] Daniel Aaron, op.cit., p.vii.
[41] Herbert Read, op.cit., p.35.
[42] Sir Philip Sidney in Virginia Spencer Davidson, "Johnson's Life of Savage," Studies in Biography, Harvard UP, Cambridge, Mass., 1978, p.63.
[43] In this respect he was very much like T.S. Eliot. See Robert Canary, op.cit., pp.2-3.
[44] David Daiches, op.cit., p.287.
[45] Ray Monk, Bertrand Russell: The Spirit of Solitude, Vintage, London, 1997, p.xviii.
[46] Herbert Read, op.cit., p.51.
[47] Quoted in David Daiches, op.cit., p.288.
[48] This view was expressed by literary critic F.R.Leavis in relation to poetry criticism and is quoted in Daiches, op.cit., p.296.
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