Dave Smith: On "Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio"

What makes "Autumn Begins" one of Wright’s better poems is its sense of grace and energy straining against a background of inevitable grays. [Costello cites the entire poem.] The communal spirit of the football game is dampened by the dirge of images. Wright achieves his best effects through such contrasts or shifts of tone. The technique can be overly theatrical at times, but here it is neatly integrated in emotionally complex images which work against the simple structure of the statement. Autumn is the harvest time, the beginning of the end, but also the beginning of the school year and a series of athletic triumphs. The contrast between the hopeless impotence of the fathers and the beautiful, futile strength of the sons is ironically locked in place by a conjunction of necessity ("therefore") as inviolable as the chain of generation. Here we understand both his nostalgia for home and his desire to escape.


Title Dave Smith: On "Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio" Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author Dave Smith Criticism Target James Wright
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 12 Jun 2020
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication The Pure Clear Word
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