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

Ode To The Confederate Dead

Row after row with strict impunity
The headstones yield their names to the element,
The wind whirrs without recollection;
In the riven troughs the splayed leaves
Pile up, of nature the casual sacrament
To the seasonal eternity of death;
Then driven by the fierce scrutiny
Of heaven to their election in the vast breath,
They sough the rumour of mortality.

Autumn is desolation in the plot
Of a thousand acres where these memories grow
From the inexhaustible bodies that are not
Dead, but feed the grass row after rich row.
Think of the autumns that have ...

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