poetic prose





Below is an email of mine to a friend.

(I have commenced a project I assigned to myself a month or two ago: reading the novels of Thomas Wolfe.)




“… a river that draws its flood and movement majestically from great depths, out of purple hills at evening” — Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again, Book One, Chapter 5





“This is what you called Wolfe’s prose poetry (or did you say ‘poetic prose’?).

“Wolfe’s critics might say ‘purple prose.’

“I find it beautiful, lyrical, powerful.

“(Read a small segment of a great writer’s prose and you already know a lot about his works. Not anyone could write this passage.)”


— Roger W. Smith

   August 5, 2017


About Roger W. Smith

Roger W. Smith is a writer and independent scholar based in New York City. His experience includes freelance writing and editing, business writing, book reviewing, and the teaching of writing and literature as an adjunct professor. Mr. Smith's interests include personal essays and opinion pieces; American and world literature; culture, especially books and reading; classical music; current issues that involve social, moral, and philosophical views; and experiences of daily living from a ground level perspective. Besides (1) rogersgleanings.com, a personal site, he also hosts websites devoted to (2) the author Theodore Dreiser and (3) to the sociologist and social philosopher Pitirim A. Sorokin.
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2 Responses to poetic prose

  1. Tom Riggio says:

    Beauty, as ever, is as much in the eyes of the beholder as in the words on the page.

  2. Very true, Tom, but I wonder. Perhaps you find me rushing to judgment and look
    upon Wolfe with a jaundiced eye.

    Once, in a course at Columbia University, we were given the assignment of analyzing a
    lyrical passage from “The Private Papers of Henry Rycroft” by George Gissing. I
    had never heard of Gissing, and we
    were not told which work the quoted passage was from. I said to myself, “I’ve got to read this writer. My instincts didn’t deceive me. A soupçon of Gissing’s
    prose was enough.

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