Allen Tate

(19 November 1899 - 9 February 1979 / Winchester, Kentucky)

Allen Tate
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John Orley Allen Tate was an American poet, essayist, social commentator, and Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1943 to 1944.


Tate was born near Winchester, Kentucky to John Orley Tate, a businessman, and Eleanor Parke Custis Varnell. In 1916 and 1917 Tate studied the violin at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.

He began attending Vanderbilt University in 1918, where he met fellow poet Robert Penn Warren . Warren and Tate were invited to join a group of young Southern poets under the leadership of John Crowe Ransom; the group were known as the Fugitive Poets and later as the Southern Agrarians. Tate contributed to the ... more »

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  • ''I suck in smoke! I smile at grimy mirth,
    And laugh to think that you had parried death.''
    Allen Tate (1899-1979), U.S. poet, critic. "Fair Cuirass Shattered."
  • ''every son-of-a-bitch is Christ, at least Rousseau....''
    Allen Tate (1899-1979), U.S. poet, critic. "Retroduction to American History."
  • ''For intellect is a mansion where waste is without drain....''
    Allen Tate (1899-1979), U.S. poet, critic. "Retroduction to American History."
  • ''The innocent mansion of a panther's heart!''
    Allen Tate (1899-1979), U.S. poet, critic. "Idiot."
  • ''The twilight is long fingers and black hair.''
    Allen Tate (1899-1979), U.S. poet, critic. "Long Fingers."
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Best Poem of Allen Tate

The Mediterranean

Where we went in the boat was a long bay
a slingshot wide, walled in by towering stone--
Peaked margin of antiquity's delay,
And we went there out of time's monotone:

Where we went in the black hull no light moved
But a gull white-winged along the feckless wave,
The breeze, unseen but fierce as a body loved,
That boat drove onward like a willing slave:

Where we went in the small ship the seaweed
Parted and gave to us the murmuring shore
And we made feast and in our secret need
Devoured the very plates Aeneas bore:

Where derelict you see through ...

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