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


2 thoughts on “poetic prose

  1. Roger W. Smith Post author

    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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