Tate, Allen(John Orley Allen Tate), 1899–1979, American poet and critic, b. Winchester, Ky., grad. Vanderbilt Univ., 1922. He was one of the founders and editors of the Fugitive (1922–25), a magazine that represented the Southern agrarian literary group of social and political conservatives. Among his early publications were interpretive biographies of Stonewall Jackson (1928) and Jefferson Davis (1929), and a novel, The Fathers (1938). He was the resident fellow of poetry at Princeton (1939–42), held the chair of poetry at the Library of Congress (1934–44), and edited the Sewanee Review (1944–46). From 1951 to 1968 he taught English literature at the Univ. of Minnesota. His critical writings, direct and perceptive, include Reactionary Essays on Poetry and Ideas (1936), On the Limits of Poetry (1948), and The Man of Letters in the Modern World (1955). His poems, filled with bitter and original imagery, exhibit unusual skill; they show Tate's intense feeling for history and for human estrangement in the world. Among his most famous poems are "Ode to the Confederate Dead," "The Mediterranean," and "The Buried Lake."
See his Collected Poems, 1919–1976 (1977) and Essays of Four Decades (1969); his collected letters (1981, 1987); biography by T. A. Underwood (2000); studies by R. K. Meiners (1963) and R. S. Dupree (1983).
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Tate, (John Orley) Allen(1899–1979) man of letters; born in Winchester, Ky. As a student at Vanderbilt University he joined the Fugitive group of southern writers; he later became the preeminent representative of the Southern Agrarian school. Best remembered for measured, classical poems like his well-known "Ode to the Confederate Dead" (he won the Bollingen poetry prize in 1956), he was also a prominent New Critic, an essayist, and the teacher of John Berryman and Theodore Roethke, among many others. He was married (1924–59) to the novelist Caroline Gordon.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.