Editor: John Struloeff
John Orley Allen Tate was an American poet, essayist, and social commentator, and Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress , 1943 - 1944.
Allen Tate was born near Winchester, Kentucky the son of John Orley Tate, a businessman, and Eleanor Parke Custis Varnell. In 1916 and 1917 he studied the violin at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, then 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 known as the Fugitive Poets and later as the Southern Agrarians. Tate contributed to the group's magazine The Fugitive and to the agrarian manifesto I'll Take My Stand published in 1930. He also joined Ransom to teach at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio.
In 1924 he moved to New York City where he met Hart Crane, with whom he had been exchanging correspondence for some time. During a summer visit with Warren in Kentucky, he began a relationship with Caroline Gordon, whom he married in New York in May 1925 Their daughter, Nancy, was born in September. He divorced Gordon in 1959 to marry the poet Isabella Gardner, and in 1966, he married Helen Heinz, his former student at the University of Minnesota. In 1967 Tate became the father of twin sons, one of whom died in an accident in 1968 after the family's move to Sewanee, Tennessee. A third son was born in 1969
In 1924 Tate began a four-year sojourn in New York City where he worked freelance for The Nation and mingled in the city’s literary social scene. He would some years later contribute to the conservative National Review as well. 1928 saw the publication of Tate's most famous poem "Ode To the Confederate Dead," which reveals many striking similarities--if not outright borrowings--to the poem "Ode to the Confederate Dead at Magnolia Cemetery" written by Civil War poet and South Carolina native, Henry Timrod. In 1928, he also published a biography Stonewall Jackson: The Good Soldier. In 1929 he published a second biography Jefferson Davis: His Rise and Fall.
The 1930s found Tate back in Tennessee working on social commentary influenced by his agrarian philosophy. In addition to his work on I'll Take My Stand he published Who Owns America? which was a conservative response to Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal. During this time he also became the de facto associate editor of The American Review, which was published and edited by the fascist Seward Collins. Tate saw The American Review as an organ for popularizing the work of the Southern Agrarians, but he objected to Collins's open support of Mussolini and Hitler and condemned fascism in an article in The New Republic in 1936. In 1938 he published his only novel, The Fathers, which drew upon the knowledge of his mother's ancestral home in Fairfax County, Virginia. He was a poet in residence at Princeton University until 1942. In 1942, he assisted novelist and friend Andrew Lytle in transforming The Sewanee Review, America's oldest literary quarterly, from a modest journal into one of the most prestigious in the nation. He and Lytle attended Vanderbilt together prior to collaborating at The University of the South.
He died in Nashville, Tennessee. His papers are at the Firestone Library at Princeton University.
Ode to the Confederate Dead
Autumn is desolation in the plot
Dazed by the wind, only the wind
You know who have waited by the wall
Seeing, seeing only the leaves
Turn your eyes to the immoderate past,
Cursing only the leaves crying
You hear the shout, the crazy hemlocks point
The hound bitch
Now that the salt of their blood
We shall say only the leaves
We shall say only the leaves whispering
What shall we say who have knowledge
Where we went in the black hull no light moved
Where we went in the small ship the seaweed
Where derelict you see through the low twilight
Where we feasted and caroused on the sandless
We for that time might taste the famous age
Let us lie down once more by the breathing side
What country shall we conquer, what fair land
Westward, westward till the barbarous brine
|[Our biography was extracted and edited from wikipedia.org]|
Last Updated: Mon, July 17, 2006
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