I have chosen this afternoon a Poet that may be unfamiliar to you but a poet who only wrote two books but they are, were and are still very respected and of significance.
Walter Benton – Born 1907 – Died 1976 – Poet and Writer.
Walter Benton was an American born in Russia, to Russian immigrant parents, who had lived in Austria. His family had left Europe in 1913 during the First World War and moved to America. Whilst during the Great Depression, Walter Benton had many jobs to enable him to attend Ohio University, in 1931, he graduated in 1934. After he graduated he was employed as a Social Investigator by New York City, for five years he then served in the US Army during World War II. He was commissioned as a Lieutenant of the Signal Corps in the Autumn of 1942, later promoted to a Captaincy.
When the War ended he returned to his job with New York City as he pursued his career as a writer. He had work published in “Yale Review”, “Saturday Review of Literature”, “Esquire”, “The New Republic” and many other publications.
He wrote two books of poetry, which were his best known work. “This is my Beloved” was published in 1943 and became one of the best selling books of poetry. This was followed by another book of love poems entitled “Never a Greater Need” which was published in 1948.
Walter Benton suffered a massive Stroke in 1965 and was then cared for by his Niece “Jeannette”, until he had to be placed in a Nursing Home, he died there in 1976.
America’s biggest selling Poet and singer, the late Rod McKuen had said that his most Romantic poetry had been influenced by Walter Benton’s two books of poems.
“Intimation of Autumn” from Benton’s second book “Never A Greater Need”
I saw immense chrysanthemums today – chrysanthemums and pink dahlias . . . rose-marble dahlias and amber chrysanthemums in the porcelain gardens behind glass fences –
pumpkins and maize on staged fields and pheasants in toy camps in the fable woods . . . behind glass fences. Is there a surer sign of autumn, excerpt the wild geese flying?
It has been a lovely summer on the beaches of the city roofs. What idler on what private shore can match the harvest colours of your sun-stained thighs?
Compare . . . hold the ripe berries here, the apples there – you could lie among the leaves and late flowers in any garden, and a butterfly would light upon you . . . and feel secure.
See for yourself if your breasts are not whiter than the silver birch. The shape of your face shows up the flaws in the nearly perfect heart-shape of the morning glory leaf.
And what can I say of your mouth that unlike perishable flowers opens like kisses at all times of night and day . . . and is certainly most sweet in all seasons?
There were questions at the time the poems were found to be “pornographic” in fact they are warm and filled with passion. I think those that found his work, in any way “pornographic” it is their gutter minds. Erotic as much as physical love. Passionate and Romantic. I have both copies of his only two books, and they were published long before I was born, I find them very beautiful, but then I am a Romantic. I hope you have enjoyed the poem.
This is from that most beautiful of Romantic films “Love Story”, the theme by Francis Lai, it was a much nicer World back then, if only clocks could be turned back.