I had thought initially of leaving out American poets from this series. The principal reason for this is that, with one clear exception, I am not sure that they achieve excellence in their fields. It is true that I have already included some writers whose excellence as poets might be doubted, but I believe they more than make up for this by their general standing as writers. This is not true of any of the American poets.
In case my rationale might seem subjective, I should note that, obviously, if I do not think highly of the generality, I would not do justice to them. But on balance I think I should try, where I find it possible, given that I cannot really omit the one I admire most. And with regard to the others I shall deal with, I should acknowledge that there is something special about the perspectives they present to us.
Foremost in this regard is Walt Whitman, whom Harold Bloom, in an otherwise generally convincing analysis of genius, thinks worthy of the highest praise. He refers to his seminal influence, and perhaps a pun is indeed intended here, on several writers including D H Lawrence and the host of youthful homosexual poets at the turn of the last century who found Whitman inspiring.
Perhaps, in fairness to the man, I should begin by citing some of the passages Bloom finds overwhelming. His favourite passage in Song of Myself he claims gives a ‘gracious, affectionate description of the Me myself’