Spender compares Jarrell to Robert Lowell, calling him a "modern" poet in a "certainly" American landscape; but he also compares his language to the Victorian poets:
Mr. Jarrell often reminds me of Tennyson and Browning. Or rather this will not seem strange if I quote from "Orestes at Tauris," which is a long, odd failure, merging into the language of prize poems with which the English Victorian writers once took the stage:
So he looked; and yet in all that pressThis is Victorian Prize Poetry with a big V and two big P's, and to judge from Mr. Jarrell's remarks about Henry Reed when he does the same thing considerably better, I cannot believe Mr. Jarrell likes it himself.
At Argos or Mycenae, or in all the isles
You never saw her like: a face so fair!
She wet your hair, and smoothed it with her hands,
Water ran down your face, and it looked pale
Under those dark and darkening locks; you shook them free,
And how ghastly it lookedyour pale anxious face!
"Considerably better!" Spender is, of course, referring to a dismissive review of Reed's A Map of Verona and Other Poems in The Nation just a month earlier, in which Jarrell compares Reed to "a nap after dinner."