Authors: William Alexander Percy
Copyright 1915, 1920, 1924, 1930, 1943 by LeRoy Pratt Percy, executor of the Estate of William Alexander Percy, deceased. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review to be printed in a magazine or newspaper.
eBook ISBN: 978-0-385-35240-6
Print ISBN: 978-0-394-19421-9
to the poetry of William Alexander Percy necessarily implies an introduction to the poet himself. I know of no other writer whose work so perceptively expresses his own personality. In his remarkable autobiography, “Lanterns on the Levee,” a tour de force written against time and a fatal illness, Will Percy has these cogent words to say of his poetry:
“Since much of my life has gone into the making of verse which I hope is poetry, I may as well state now and as briefly as I can how and why I wrote.
“What I wrote seemed to me more essentially myself than anything I did or said. It often gushed up almost involuntarily like automatic writing, and the difficulty lay in keeping the hot gush continuous and unselfconscious while at the same time directing it with cold intellect into form. I could never write in cold blood. The results were intensely personal, whatever their other defects.…
“When you feel something intensely, you want to write it down — if anguish, to stanch the bleeding; if delight, to prolong the moment. When … you feel you have discovered a new truth or an old one which suddenly for you has the excitement of a new one, you write a poem. To keep it free from irrelevant photographic details you set it in some long-ago time, one, of course, you love and perhaps once lived in.