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By Paul Mariani

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By literary biography I mean biography that pays attention to literary style, has a strong narrative line, and presents the subject from the perspective of the moment in which that person lived. I wanted as little of the omniscient author and as little of that easy Monday morning quarterbackingwhether invoking the name of Page 8 Freud or Marx or whomeveras would suffice to order and make sense of the life. I wanted the men and women who made up Williams's world and I wanted them living and believable and delivered in as much of their human complexity as I could manage.

But Creeley had the satisfaction of having Williams tell him, after Williams had read the poems in For Love in early 1960, that he believed Creeley to have the subtlest feeling for the measure of anyone he had read, Pound alone excepted. High praise indeed. I have not said enough yet about the unique gifts of Creeley, who has been with us, after all, for the past thirty years, but in time I will again add my own voice to the chorus of those who have benefited from the poet's example. I first met John Montague at the University of Buffalo in the summer of 1974 while I was doing research on Williams at the old state campus.

And even Gerard Manley Hopkins, who published virtually nothing in his lifetime, could feel a critic's barb by inference and smile sardonically to his friend Robert Bridges that, if such oblique references and dismissal constituted fame, he wanted no part of it. For Williams, however, the case was far more interesting and severe, for it was once easy in American literary circles to laugh Williams off. The Partisan Review did it, the Princeton circle did it, including Blackmur and Jarrell and others, Poetry did it, and by extension the entire British literary tradition did it.

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