The Profligate Love Poems of Walter Benton

Kathleen Rooney at Poetry Magazine:

Benton was massively popular in his heyday. This Is My Beloved came out in 1943; Billboard reported in early 1949 that the book had sold more than 350,000 copies, and it remained continuously in print for decades. Benton’s work appeared in the Yale Review, Esquire, the New Republic, Poetry, and other prestigious outlets, but he’s best remembered today (if at all) for his World War II poetry. The only contemporary review of This Is My Beloved I could track down was in Kirkus Reviews in 1942. It’s a wry, saucy write-up that reads: “High voltage verse, this, in free verse for a sequence of lyrics commemorating a love affair and its termination. Intimate corporeal and physical detail and extravagant praise thereof, in what might mildly be termed erotica. D.H. Lawrence—move over.”

Whatever critics’ ambivalence, Benton wrote one of the bestselling poetry collections in America. Why had I never heard of him? Exposure doesn’t equal merit, of course, but these poems had resonated with hundreds of thousands of readers over the years and now struck a chord in me. I wanted to understand why.

more here.