Randall Jarrell stung Richard Wilbur with ‘that damn review’

“….”The most influential response to [Richard] Wilbur’s first books of poems came from [Randall] Jarrell — who, with his incomparable gift for the killer witticism, compared Wilbur to a football halfback who always settled for six or eight yards, instead of taking a chance for a big gain. ‘Mr. Wilbur never goes too far, Jarrell judged, ‘but he never goes far enough.’

“These words were to dog Wilbur’s reputation over the decades; ‘I got sick of people quoting from that damn review,’ the poet told his biographers, who rightly deem Jarrell’s review more innuendo and anecdote’ than analysis….”

— From “Celebration of the World” by William H. Pritchard in Commonweal (Aug. 27), a review of   “Let Us Watch Richard Wilbur: A Biographical Study” by Robert Bagg and Mary Bagg (2017)