Monday, June 24, 2013

Allen Tate

Allen Tate (1899—1979) is an important poet of the southern school. He was one of the founding editors of The Fugitive, which helped promote formalist techniques in poetry, and agrarian values. Tate is best known for his poem "Ode to the Confederate Dead". He was influenced first by John Crowe Ransom, and then by T.S. Eliot. Tate, in turn, influenced such poets as Robert Lowell and John Berryman. He was also influential as a critic. In his complicated poems, the poet himself remains a distant figure.

According to The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry Tate has said that all of his poems are "about the suffering that comes from disbelief". In 1950 Tate officially converted to Catholicism, although he had been attracted to it for years.


If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out

If your tired unspeaking head
Rivet the dark with linear sight,
Crazed by a warlock with his curse
Dreamed up in some loquacious bed,
And if the stage-dark head rehearse
The fifth act of the closing night,

Why, cut it off, piece after piece,
And throw the tough cortex away,
And when you've marvelled on the wars
That wove their interior smoke its way,
Tear out the close vermiculate crease
Where death crawled angrily at bay.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at: