When first issued in 1928 in a limited edition of 500, Conrad Aiken wrote: “An unusually delightful book…carries humor into poetry unruffled, with all its wings and feathers. It is humor, and yet, because (precisely) it has this vox, this odd something-or-other, this bloom of innocence of the sly, this consciously bright air of always stopping (or frequently, not to flatter the author too much) at the point of maximum suggestion, it is poetry.””
“The poetry of Robert Clairmont is wild and exact,” Ellen Reiss writes in her notable introduction: “It has yearning and toughness, humor and depth….The new edition of his 1928 Quintillions not only gives people a chance to meet his poems, which are delightful and beautiful, and to have emotions that only authentic poetry can make for; this republication gives an opportunity to ask freshly what poetry is.
“It was through Eli Siegel—founder of the philosophy Aesthetic Realism and in my opinion the greatest of literary critics—that I first learned of Robert Clairmont. I also learned from Mr. Siegel that the difference between what is poetry and what isn’t, is the most important difference in the world. That is because poetry is honesty: honesty so full and wide that it has become musical. This musical honesty is in Quintillions.…
“If we don’t see honesty as pleasure and as our own glorious self-expression (and mainly, people don’t), then honesty is not what we’ll choose when it really counts. That is a big reason why we need to see what poetry is: living evidence that honesty is music; that justice is individuality.”