Allen Tate

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Allen Tate’s Life And Career Essay, Research Paper David Havird TATE was born John Orley Allen Tate near Winchester, Kentucky, the son of John Orley Tate, a businessman, and Eleanor Parke Custis Varnell. During Tate’s childhood the business interests of his father-lumber, land sales, and stocks-forced the family to move as often as three times a year. As Tate later recalled, "we might as well have been living, and I been born, in a tavern at a crossroads." By 1911 his father’s business ventures and his parents’ marriage had failed. The youngest of three boys by almost ten years, Tate found himself in "perpetual motion" with his mother, a native Virginian whose family seat in Fairfax County later became the "Pleasant Hill" of Tate’s only

novel, The Fathers (1938). From 1916 to 1917 Tate studied the violin at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. As he implies in his late poem "The Buried Lake" (1953), his failure to fulfill his musical ambitions signaled "the death of youth." In 1918 he enrolled at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. During the fall semester of his senior year (1921), at the invitation of Donald Davidson, a member of the English faculty, Tate began attending the informal meetings of the group of men, which also included his sometime professor John Crowe Ransom, that launched the Fugitive in 1922. Tate thus became a founding editor of the poetry journal whose three-year run heralded the literary renascence of the South. At nineteen he had immersed himself in the English poet

James Thomson’s The City of Dreadful Night (1874), a seminal if (as he later confessed) "disconcerting" influence on his verse. Now among the Fugitives, he distinguished himself as a savant of a cosmopolitan body of literature. According to Ransom, Tate was already reading the French poets Charles Baudelaire (a translation of whose sonnet "Correspondences" he published in 1924), St?phane Mallarm?, and R?my de Gourmont. He could have added G?rard de Nerval. Tate himself recalled that he "read the ‘Later [W. B.] Yeats’ in the early nineteen-twenties." A letter in 1922 from Hart Crane, who seemed to hear the cadences of T. S. Eliot in Tate’s poem "Euthanasia" in the Double Dealer, prompted Tate to purchase Eliot’s Poems (1920).

Immediately he recognized his affinity with the older poet: "This man, though by no means famous at that time, was evidently so thoroughly my contemporary that I had been influenced by him before I had read a line of his verse." A brush with tuberculosis forced Tate to withdraw from Vanderbilt in 1922. After some months of recuperation in the mountains of North Carolina, he returned to the university in 1923. During his last semester, he roomed with Robert Penn Warren, who became the youngest of the Fugitive poets and Tate’s lifelong friend. With Ridley Wills, another roommate and fellow Fugitive, Tate produced The Golden Mean, a parody of The Waste Land, which he in fact admired. Indeed, Tate’s published riposte, later that year, to Ransom’s attack on Eliot’s

poem in the New York Evening Post chilled their relationship. With a diploma dated 1922, Tate received his bachelor’s degree in 1923. In 1924 Tate moved to New York City, where he met Hart Crane. 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. Between 1925 and 1928, with their child in the care of her maternal grandparents in Kentucky and Gordon in the employment of the English novelist Ford Madox Ford, Tate wrote freelance articles and reviews for such periodicals as the Nation and the New Republic, did editorial work for the publisher of pulp romance magazines, performed janitorial functions in the building where they sometimes lived, and