Portrait of Delmore

edited and introduced by Elizabeth Pollet. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27.95. The journals and notes that Delmore Schwartz kept, in an irregular way, from 1939 to 1959 have been arranged for publication by his second wife, who left him when his behavior became intolerable. There is no reason to suspect that Ms. Pollet has been other than fair and honest in deciphering and presenting the confusing mixture of manuscript she had to deal with. Schwartz, it seems, talked to himself on paper. He tried out subjects, experimented with rough drafts of poems, wrote opening paragraphs of stories, concocted rhyme lists, played with odd words, aired grudges, catalogued grievances, made good resolutions, and sometimes even recorded the practical facts of his life. Wonderful phrases and lines and striking observations are scattered throughout, but on the whole this is material best suited to passionate admirers and students of the poet’s work.