The Maori Tradition

Alexander and Currie, like most critics at the turn of the century, had singled out as a potentially distinctive feature of New Zealand poetry the 'colourful' narrative possibilities of Maori myths and legends. The vast colonial body of poeticized Maori myths and legends was almost wholly drawn from Sir George Grey's collection, Polynesian Mythology (1855). Grey's preface to that volume, which explained why, as governor of the colony, he had undertaken the project 'I could neither successfully...

Roger Gilbert

The story of the first half of the twentieth century in American poetry is largely a story of individual poets Frost, Stevens, Pound, Williams, H. D., Moore, Eliot, Crane. By comparison the second half of the century looks muddy and crowded. While a few postwar poets have achieved demi-canonical stature, there still seems to be little agreement about which individuals or groups have mattered most in the last fifty years. This means that doing justice to the richness and variety of the period...

The Colonial Inheritance

It was the poet Allen Curnow, in his most considered foray into poetics, the introduction to his anthology, The Penguin Book of New Zealand Verse (1960), who articulated most persuasively the notion of a 'historical divide' separating the first eight decades of the country's 'literature' (1840 1920) from the subsequent three or four decades (1920 1930 60), asserting that this was 'the most significant fact to be regarded in any realistic retrospect' on the country's literary history (Curnow,...

Vinay Dharwadker

The Indian subcontinent's poetry in English was the first body of verse composed in a European language by writers of non-European origin to enter print outside the Western hemisphere. Between the second quarter of the nineteenth century and the middle of the twentieth, it emerged as a relatively small but cohesive order of works modelled mostly on Romantic and post-Romantic British poetry in closed forms, much like the English poetry of the colonial period produced in Australia, New Zealand,...

Tim Armstrong

The 'Poems of 1912 13' are a sequence of elegies which Thomas Hardy wrote after the sudden death of his first wife Emma on the morning of 27 November 1912. They describe her death, Hardy's reaction, and his visit to the scenes of their courtship in Cornwall the following March. The original sequence, published with other groups of poems in the first edition of Satires of Circumstance (1914), comprised eighteen poems. Five years later, in the Wessex Edition and Collected Poems (1919) Hardy...

Stephen Burt and Jennifer Lewin

'Never have poetry and criticism in English been so close together', Allen Tate wrote in 1955, as they were at the height of the largely American movement now called the New Criticism (Tate, 1968, p. 214). In the late 1920s, after the upheavals of High Modernism, some younger critics who were also poets began to explain the principles which had emerged from their tastes. These principles helped generate new approaches to literature and especially to poetry, concentrating on close verbal...

Cynthia Messenger

English Canadian poetry of the twentieth century is not easily characterized, mainly because it is notable less for its schools or movements than for a small number of writers of singular talent and vision. This essay cannot attempt to be comprehensive but will discuss Canada's most accomplished and historically significant poets. Archibald Lampman (1861 99), Duncan Campbell Scott (1862 1947), Sir Charles G. D. Roberts (1860 1943), and his cousin Bliss Carman (1861 1929), together referred to...

Postmodernity

I discussed Australian poetry post-1968 in Parnassus Mad Ward where, however, I made little direct reference to postmodernity. The revolution which ushered in the so-called generation of '68 and which overtook New Impulses as the war overtook Brennan's Poems 1913, seems to me to mark the postmodern moment in Australia. Postmodernism, triggered by the communications revolution theorized by Baudrillard and by the late consumer capitalism identified by Jameson, brought affluence, advertising,...

Technologies of Communication

In more material ways, new technologies shifted poetic styles. The typewriter completed the move towards the poem as a design on the page begun by Mallarm in Un Coup de d s, making way for the ludic typographies of e e cummings and A. R. Ammons's Tape for the Turn of the Year (1965), written on adding-machine tape. In the new technologies of reproduction, Friedrich Kittler has argued, language is disconnected from subjectivity, becomes a pure system, describable in the manner that the linguist...

Decadent into Modern The Poet in Society

The problem of 'excess' and of its related feminization derived, once more, from the cultivated artifice of the decadent 1890s. An example of modernist poetry's unsettled dialogue with this mode and idiom appeared in Ezra Pound's 'The Garden' from the collection Lustra (1916). The poem enacts the complex reactions of a male observer to the figure of a middle-class, even aristocratic, woman enclosed by the railings of Kensington Gardens, beyond which lurk 'the filthy, sturdy, unkillable infants...

Tradition and Modernity

Allen Upward's observation above recalls Thomas Carlyle's essay 'Signs of the Times' which appeared as 'early' as 1829. Nor is this a simple echo. Isobel Armstrong suggests how Carlyle's work diagnoses a new historical situation of increasing alienation that parallels Marx's account of the division of labour under capitalism. Carlyle describes an emerging modern industrial society where a new distribution of wealth was, he said, 'strangely altering the old relations' (Armstrong, 1993, p. 4)....

David Ellis

Lawrence is an anomaly among the great literary figures of the early twentieth century. Although there are many ways in which he is a distinctively modern writer, the attempts periodically made to drag him into the modernist camp are never wholly convincing. This is as true of his poetry as it is of his fiction. Generally acknowledged as his strongest collection, Birds, Beasts and Flowers was published in 1923, only a year or two after Hugh Selwyn Mauberley and The Wasteland yet the...

Scottish Poetry

No doubt the first observation to make about twentieth-century Scottish poetry is that to consider this material under the heading of 'poetry in English' is, at best, problematic. Scotland and England share a long and vexed history, and the vexations have been as much linguistic as political (if, indeed, these categories are distinguishable at all). With the joining of the Scottish and English thrones under King James VI in 1603, and the Union of Parliaments of the two nations in 1707, Scotland...

Lucy Collins

The considerable difficulty inherent in categorizing literary movements is distinctly evident in the problems surrounding the term 'confessionalism'. Applied retrospectively to the work of a number of mid-century American poets, it was a term which these poets rarely used to describe themselves. Confessionalism has no leader, no manifesto, and in spite of representing an extreme development in modern poetry, it is often difficult to pin-point exactly. It is detected with most accuracy only in a...

John Haffenden

The Waste Land runs to 434 lines in length, so it is not really the 'long poem' that Eliot planned or anticipated ('the longest poem in the English langwidge', as Ezra Pound once jokingly applauded it). First published in The Criterion (London, October 1922) and The Dial (New York, November 1922), it has been the cause of more consternation and controversy than any other poem of the twentieth century. To some readers it appears to be staggeringly esoteric a medley of voices a 'music of...

Ransom Tate Warren

Educated at Vanderbilt and Oxford, Ransom (1888 1974) taught at Vanderbilt from 1914 to 1938, with three years off to serve in the First World War. His students at Vanderbilt included Tate, Warren and later Jarrell. Ransom decamped in 1938 to Ohio's Kenyon College, where Jarrell and Lowell not only studied with him but lived in his family's house. Ransom's essays insist that poetry provides us with non-discursive, particular knowledge of the world, one incommensurable with the knowledge the...

Terence Brown

Yeats's The Tower (a collection of twenty-one poems, including some of his greatest achievements as a poet) was published in London on 14 February 1928 he was a renowned literary figure and public man. His distinction as poet and man of letters, who had contributed by his cultural work to the independence movement in his native Ireland, had received the ultimate accolade in the award of the Nobel Prize for literature in December 1923. His life-long engagement in Irish cultural...

Vi

If there is anything specific to women's writing, it seems natural to ask whether or not there is a specifically male (or masculine) type of poetry. The claims made about twentieth-century male poets have tended to link their anti-Romanticism with their misogyny. Thus, Dekoven cites Pound's vorticist manifesto as 'characteristic of Modernism's self-imagination as a mode of masculine domination' and puts it in the context of modernist advocacy of 'firm, hard, dry, terse, classical masculinity,...

Joanne Feit Diehl

Despite many poets' explicit aversion to literary theory, poetry and theory have been closely entwined throughout the twentieth century. Indeed, from the era of the New Criticism to the current experimentation of the Language Poets, poetry has reflected and responded to theoretical premises, sometimes to embrace and at other times to challenge theory's presuppositions. In this essay, I assert that poetry has a distinctive relationship to theoretical issues because poetry, by its very nature,...

Douglas Houston

With regard to the internal cultural identity of Wales, the canon of Welsh poetry in English, or Anglo-Welsh poetry as it is often termed, has emerged during the twentieth century. Such earlier poets as Henry Vaughan, George Herbert and John Dyer have strong claims to being Welsh, but their works belong primarily in the English poetic tradition. Welsh remained the pre-eminent language of poetry within Wales until the end of the nineteenth century. The establishment of Welsh poetry in English as...

The Doctrine of the Image the Metropolis and Gender

The most commonly recognized moment of modernist poetry's arrival was the publication of three poems by 'H. D. Imagiste' (so named by Pound) in Poetry in January 1913. The key Imagist principles of economy, direct treatment and the use of musical or spoken rhythms were set out in a combined statement by F. S. Flint and Pound in the March number of that year, and the first collection Des Imagistes, edited by Pound and retaining his Frenchified label, followed in spring 1914. The dates seem...

David Goldie

Leavis began his epoch-defining book, New Bearings in English Poetry (1932), with the confident assertion that 'poetry matters little to the modern world'. Even allowing for Leavis's deliberate provocativeness and the subtlety of his subsequent argument this would seem, on the face of it, a little overstated. For Leavis was writing at a time in which poetry was experiencing a popularity that it will probably never exceed. The reasons for this popularity can be traced back to the First...

Victorian into Modern Interiority and Impersonality

The Victorians, however, provided technical solutions as well as a social and ideological precedent for the later modernists. Robert Browning's penchant in his use of the dramatic monologue for 'grotesque' non-poetic diction and eccentric metres mimetic of what Walter Bagehot termed a 'mind in difficulties' (Faas, 1986, p. 21) were an example to Eliot and especially the early Pound. Above all, the dramatic monologue is distinguished by the 'objective' position of the poet (the term was...

Acknowledgements

Although the original plan for this book was drawn up by myself, I have benefited enormously from the suggestions of individuals too numerous to name, but mostly of my contributors, whose influence on the book, in many cases, has extended far beyond their named contributions. I am indebted to many of them for the final shape of the book, and often for suggesting other contributors. Above all I want to thank Hugh Witemeyer for the conversations in New Mexico, at the very beginning of the...

Peter Brooker and Simon Perril

Writing in The New Age in 1911, Allen Upward claimed that 'It is a sign of the times that so many of us should be busy in studying the signs of the times' (Upward, 1911, p. 297). A lifetime and more later the newness which captivated Upward's contemporaries is a thing of the past, though it is by name 'modern' and 'modernist' still. One of the paradoxical signs of our own times is that we are 'after' the modern and view from this perspective. But in a sense modernism has never synchronized with...

The Difference is Spreading Stein

A burgeoning generation of 'language-centred' writers is seen as having offered a materialist critique of the expressivist tendencies of the New American poetry as encapsulated by Robert Grenier's famous pronouncement 'I HATE SPEECH' in the first issue of This in 1971. As much as stylistic allegiances, Language poets like Watten, Ron Silliman and Lyn Hejinian are as likely to cite socio-political context as occasioning the formation of the extensive network of publishing, collaboration and...

Livio Dobrez

These days, in the shadow of postmodern anti-essentialisms, many Australian scholars will profess not to know what 'Australian poetry' is. What can one say except that, in Andrew Taylor's Foucauldian formulation, it must be what 'we' (itself problematical) say it is. What else could 'Australian' (or 'American' or 'Japanese') possibly mean But this is only the beginning of the difficulty. Why 'poetry' (and not, more broadly, 'discourse') And what about 'history of' Without totalizing narrative,...

Rand Brandes

If our deepest grief could speak, it would speak Crow. Crow is Ted Hughes's most bleak and disturbing volume. No one who truly engages Crow can forget it it becomes a terrible touchstone in one's memory field. In retrospect, Crow is clearly Hughes's 'dark night of the soul', and it is disturbingly prophetic. Hughes's fourth volume, published in 1970, Crow follows the dark world of Wodwo (1967), haunted shadows and ghosts, to its source, a black hole where neither light nor language can escape....

The 1960s and After

By the mid-1960s poetry itself was also moving in significantly different directions. One of these directions was a movement among the older poets to break out of fixed forms, to develop a more personal mode of expression which drew flexibly from a variety of formal and informal speech registers and explored a wide range of personal, domestic and social concerns in a style which exploited shifts and contrasts of tone, mood and emotional intensity. Its immediate model was the confessional poetry...

Lisa M Steinman

There are many fruitful ways to approach Spring and All. I want here to start with its historical and textual beginnings. The book was published in Paris by Robert McAlmon's Contact Publishing Company after William Carlos Williams failed to find an American publisher. It was a landmark year for modernist writing by Americans T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land appeared late in 1922 1923 saw the publication of Wallace Stevens's Harmonium and Gertrude Stein's The Making of Americans, along with two...

Darwinism and Vitalism

The Darwinian world-view initiates two different currents in modern literature. One tends towards the analysis of the world as system and incipient order. The biologist Louis Agassiz's doctrine of 'correspondences', espoused by Emerson, finds echoes throughout the twentieth century not only in Pound's use of his work, but in comments like Moore's declaration that Williams's strength is 'the ability to see resemblances in things which are dissimilar' (Moore, 1986, p. 56). To be sure, for the...

Philip Hobsbaum

Wallace Stevens, of Pennsylvania Dutch descent, was born in 1879 and died in 1955. He read a General Arts course at Harvard, freelanced for a time as a journalist in New York, then qualified in Law and spent most of his life working as an insurance man. He excelled especially in sorting out defaults and bankruptcies, and did well out of the Depression of 1929. Stevens began his literary career as one of a number of Harvard undergraduates in the 1890s who sought to create an American poetry....

Victor Chang

As far back as 1972 Edward Baugh observed that 'West Indian poetry seems to have come into its own' (Baugh, 1972, p. 1) after the publication of several volumes of poetry by Derek Walcott and Kamau Brathwaite, but when Walcott was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992 it could be said that West Indian poetry had reached the height of its achievement. And while it is true that the poetry of the Anglophone Caribbean reveals shifts in approach and variations in style, much as the islands...

Ii

An obvious way in which the content of women's writing might be expected to differ from that of men's would be by virtue of the experiences it records. Men's and women's biological experiences are different. Historically the differences have been emphasized and supplemented by marked differences in upbringing, education and pursuits. It is understandable that Jan Montefiore, in her lucid book on Feminism and Poetry, should use the phrase 'Poetry and Women's Experience' as a subtitle for her...

Alex Davis

A few days before Christmas 1900, Augusta Gregory was delighted to receive a copy of Yeats's dramatic poem The Shadowy Waters, from its author (Yeats, 1997, p. 610). The linguistic opulence and static quality of Gregory's 'best Xmas box' would soon come into conflict with Yeats's theatrical ambitions in the early years of the century, prompting him to revise it twice in an attempt to discard its 'needless symbols' (Yeats, 1954, p. 453). As a poetic text, the 1900 version reads as a lengthy...

Nationalist Discourse

It is in this highly specific context that poetry, like any discourse, locates itself, both passively and actively. If it might be said of twentieth-century Western poetry in general that its project is to come to terms with the historical phenomenon of modernity, that is, technology, then the same is true in Australia. But with the difference that more local-historical issues, fundamentally those of belonging or identity-formation, come into play as well. Thus where nineteenth-century poetry...

The Body

Although the best-known poems in Ariel possess a relatively accessible combination of striking local imagery with direct utterance, and, some commentators have argued, a strong sense of narrative as well (Dickie, 1984 Roberts, 1999), other poems in the collection have notoriously defeated sure critical analysis. These include 'Cut' and 'Nick and the Candlestick'. In my view these poems can best be explained in terms of Julia Kristeva's bodily discourse of abjection (Kristeva, 1982 see also...

Stephen Regan

In critical studies and literary histories of postwar British poetry, a good deal of discussion has been concerned with the existence - real or imagined - of a group of writers known as the Movement. The common assumption is that the Movement was largely a reaction against the inflated romanticism of the 1940s, a victory of common sense and clarity over obscurity and mystification, of verbal restraint over stylistic excess in short, the virtues of Philip Larkin over those of Dylan Thomas. Those...

Kwadwo Osei Nyame

From my song and the heartstringed instrument I will not clean the poem to impress the tyrant I will not bend my verses into the bow of a praise song. I will ask only that the poem watch the world closely Today my poetry has exacted a confession from me. (Frank Chipasula, 'Manifesto on Ars Poetica') Two decades ago Ken Goodwin, in examining the transformations in its formal properties and thematic content that African poetry had undergone since its evolution, observed in his work Understanding...

Neil Roberts

The subject of this volume, twentieth-century poetry in English, is vast, heterogeneous and paradoxical. To say that it attempts to represent the poetry of a hundred years and more than twenty countries is to suggest only one dimension of the difficulty of the project. The phrase 'in English' is no mere neutral description, but signifies a complex, violent and still bitterly felt political and cultural history some contributors question the division between poetry in English and other...

Field Theory Energy as Organization

The modernist interest in the new physics, described above in terms of communication, also had implications for poetic design for Pound and his followers. 'The rose in the steel dust' the pattern produced by electromagnetic forces Pound described in 'Psychology and Troubadours' and other essays seemed to embody the mysterious flow of energies towards a design he saw in primitive art and to provide a model for the image as a 'radiant node or cluster' and slightly later for the 'vortex' which was...

An Educated Barbarism

On the first page of his most famous novel, William Burroughs explains 'the title means exactly what the words say NAKED Lunch a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork'. The notion that the writer's duty is to convey experience raw, unmediated by literary convention or good taste, is repeated many times, Burroughs purporting to reject any attempt at novelization and presenting himself as the scientific documentor of his own (and, by extension, the larger culture's)...

Bernard ODonoghue

On the way to the Nobel Prize many of Seamus Heaney's individual books of poems were singled out for high praise, beginning with the greeting of Death of a Naturalist as a first volume of huge promise and extraordinary powers of accurate description in 1966. In his 3 5-year publishing life, divisions can now be made on thematic grounds into early, middle and later stages of Heaney's career the early Wordswor-thian poems of the country person's tactile awareness ('up to North, . . . that was one...

Notes on Contributors

Neil Roberts is Professor of English Literature and former Head of the School of English at the University of Sheffield. He is the author of George Eliot Her Beliefs and Her Art (1975), Ted Hughes A Critical Study (with Terry Gifford, 1981), The Lover, the Dreamer and the World The Poetry of Peter Redgrove (1994), Meredith and the Novel (1997) and Narrative and Voice in Postwar Poetry (1999), as well as numerous essays on contemporary poetry. He is currently working on a study of D. H....

Beginnings

Subcontinental writing in English is now a literature in the comprehensive sense of the term, but it started at the end of the eighteenth century without a core of poetry, narrative fiction or drama. Among its inaugural texts, Dean Mahomet's Travels (1794) was a combination of autobiography, professional memoir and cultural exposition in the form of an epistolary travel-narrative C. V. Boriah's 'Account of the Jains' (completed in 1803, but published posthumously in 1809) was an ethnographic...

Bruce Woodcock

Omeros (1990) helped Derek Walcott win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992. This achievement gave further international recognition to the creative outpouring from the Caribbean since 1945. Walcott's own part in this is outstanding and his work places him as one of the foremost poets in the second half of the twentieth century. Omeros, with its appropriations of Homeric epic tradition, is a product of 'translation', not so much in the linguistic sense, but in the wider sense of 'cultural...

Hugh Witemeyer

In September 1908 the young American poet, John Gould Fletcher (1886-1950), left Harvard University for Europe. In his autobiography, Life Is My Song (1937), Fletcher explains the reasons for his pilgrimage I had come abroad to try to acquire an education, to learn something concerning the aesthetic, moral, and spiritual values by which man was made worthy of the world he lived in, and which had created man's highest civilizations. . . . Were there values in Europe, were there values anywhere...

The Beats A Problematic Canon

Writers commonly dislike group labels, feeling that their works are being cruelly amputated - an arm off here, a leg there ('the work bleeds', D. H. Lawrence protested) - to fit a communal box. Yet, as David Lodge has pointed out, no text can generate meaning in a vacuum. The meaning of a book is in large part a product of its differences from and similarities to other books. If, say, a novel did not bear some resemblance to other novels, we should not know how to read it, and if it was not...

Stephen Matterson

Life Studies has been one of the most acclaimed and influential single books in American poetry. It exists alongside Leaves of Grass, Prufrock and Other Observations, Harmonium, Spring and All, Howl and Other Poems, 77 Dream Songs and Ariel as a work through which a distinctive American poetic tradition has been defined. In spite of subsequent acclaim, however, Life Studies was a book which its author regarded on its publication in 1959 with a remarkable degree of uncertainty concerning its...

Jahan Ramazani

In recent decades much of the most vital writing in English has come from Britain's former colonies in the so-called Third World. For readers of fiction the geographic explosion of Anglophone literature is by now self-evident postcolonial novelists like Chinua Achebe, V. S. Naipaul, Salman Rushdie and Arundhati Roy have clearly redrawn the map of English-language fiction in our time. By comparison, 'contemporary poetry' remains strikingly provincial in the Anglophone West. With the exception of...

Jonathan Ellis

His beak is focussed he is preoccupied, looking for something, something, something. The millions of grains are black, white, tan, and gray, mixed with quartz grains, rose and amethyst. North & South, published in 1946, was Elizabeth Bishop's first collection of poems. It took its thirty-five-year-old author more than a decade to complete and is the product of half a lifetime's travelling, both literally between places and figuratively in her writing. A close friend of Marianne Moore and...

Reader Writer Relations

The pr occupation with the 'referential fallacy', another term used to indicate the illusion of transparency, was also given a political angle. Capitalism, as Silliman expressed it, involves 'an anaesthetic transformation of the perceived tangibility of the word, with corresponding increases in its descriptive and narrative capacities, preconditions for the invention of realism, the optical illusion of reality in capitalist thought' (Andrews and Bernstein, 1984, p. 125). In short, capitalism...

Sean OBrien

Quite properly in advance of the political developments which have seen a loosening of formal ties between the peoples who constitute the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the identity and work of a number of poets have invited questions about what the term 'British' might mean. For a Scot such as Douglas Dunn, the term may seem an anachronistic imposition. And what of poets of Irish extraction, including Carol Ann Duffy and Ian Duhig, living and working in England or...

India After Partition and Independence

The history and the aesthetic formation of the subcontinent's English poetry are both inseparable from its geography and geopolitics. Between about 1757 and 1947, the subcontinent was coextensive with today's South Asia, and British India, which at its largest covered about one-third of the area, was divided into three Presidencies centred administratively around Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. The remaining two-thirds of the subcontinent was made up of approximately 625 'native states', which...

Empson Winters Blackmur

The Yorkshire-born Empson (1906 84) 'became a part of American New Critics' common orthodoxy but, they feared, a tricky and a subversive part' (Norris, 1978, p. 3). Sent down from postgraduate studies at Cambridge for harbouring a woman in his rooms, Empson spent most of the 1930s and 1940s teaching English in Japan and China, later settling at the University of Sheffield. His broadest influence came through his first book, Seven Types of Ambiguity (1930), begun while he was Richards's student...

David Moody

Basil Bunting saw Pound's Cantos as the Alps 'you will have to go a long way round if you want to avoid them' (Bunting, 1968, p. 110). To continue his metaphor, The Pisan Cantos might be seen as the Mont Blanc range, possibly more accessible than the rest, but immense in themselves and rising to a majestic summit. There is no way my 6,000 words can contain them, unless by turning the telescope round I can show them in miniature. However, that could mean losing the detail, and these cantos are...

The Long Nineteenth Century

The invention of poetry in this tradition preceded that of the short story (1835), the play (1848-9) and the novel (1864), and poetry became the paradigmatic genre and testing-ground for indigenous creativity in English for several decades. The ascendancy of poetry and imaginative writing was the result of one altered circumstance whereas the first prose writers had learnt English informally, most of the poets received a formal education in the language, which became available to Indians widely...

Info

Source Numbers tabulated from census studies by James G. Maddox, E. E. Liebhafsky, Vivian W. Henderson and Herbert M. Hamlin (1967), The Advancing South Manpower Prospects and Problems. Source Numbers tabulated from census studies by James G. Maddox, E. E. Liebhafsky, Vivian W. Henderson and Herbert M. Hamlin (1967), The Advancing South Manpower Prospects and Problems. Note that the South Atlantic and East South Central states are the only ones experiencing losses in African American population...

Alex Calder

North of Boston, Frost's second book, came out in England in 1914. A few poems go back a decade to Frost's years as a chicken farmer in New Hampshire ('The Death of a Hired Man', 'The Black Cottage', 'The Housekeeper') others ('The Mountain', 'After Apple-Picking', 'The Woodpile') were largely completed before Frost left for England in 1912, where the remaining ten poems were written 'on an inspiration compounded of homesickness and the delight of new friendships' (Cramer, 1996, pp. 28 9). It...

Pakistan and Sri Lanka

Since 1947 8, Pakistani English poetry and Sri Lankan English poetry have diverged from Indian English poetry and each other in their aesthetic and critical functions chiefly because of their specific national situations. When Pakistan was created in 1947 it was defined as an aggregate of two regions West Pakistan and East Pakistan separated by nearly one thousand miles in 1971, helped by India's military intervention, East Pakistan broke away to form the independent nation of Bangladesh....

The Maximus Poems

With poems as technically adroit as this, Olson, Creeley, Williams and Levertov resuscitated the experimental lyric earlier perfected by the likes of William Carlos Williams. However, the ways in which the shared techniques led on to a shared concern with individuation, the spasmodic process by which we achieve some sort of selfhood, is best explored in relation to Olson's magnum opus. For as early as 1950 he was devoting most of his energies to The Maximus Poems, a second-generation modernist...

Theory

Written in 1950, 'Projective Verse' was a theoretical launching-pad from which Olson hoped to propel himself and others into poetic creativity. Herbert Read once said that 'a tradition in art is not a body of beliefs it is a knowledge of techniques'. Bearing his dictum in mind, we might see the essay as an attempt to identify a prosodic tradition which the author's own verse will later be seen to have forwarded. Even the name 'Projective' may partly have been chosen in order to signify the...

Elizabeth Wilson

Observations, published in 1924 in New York by the Dial Press, was Marianne Moore's second book of poems. It was, nevertheless, the book Moore considered her first legitimate collection. It was reprinted a year later in 1925, by which time it had won the Dial Award for Poetry, and wide critical acclaim. Moore's first collection, Poems, was published in London in 1921, by the Egoist Press. The selection had been put together by H. D., Winifred Bryher and Robert McAlmon, H. D.'s husband,...

Queering the Canon

Robert Lee edited a collection of ten essays by British and American scholars under the title The Beat Generation Writers. The essays are interesting and provocative, yet all shirk the fundamental task of identifying a Beat aesthetic, preferring, in the usual way, to define the group as a circle of acquaintance on a New York-San Francisco axis. Granted this regrettable dependence upon the biographical, it is paradoxical - though, again, typical - that not one of the essays squarely...

David Herd

John Ashbery's Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror is home to a handful of the most accomplished short lyrics in American poetry. In various ways each of, say, 'Worsening Situation', 'As You Came from the Holy Land', 'Grand Galop', 'Hop o' My Thumb', 'Mixed Feelings' and 'The One Thing That Can Save America' is a superbly adroit articulation of the poet's cultural situation. Each finds Ashbery at the top of his form, and in other circumstances each would have attracted much attention. Appearing as...

The Rabbit Catcher

'The Rabbit Catcher' was included in Plath's own 'Ariel' collection but not in the published Ariel. It was presumably excluded as one of the 'more openly vicious' poems, as Hughes puts it (Hughes, 1994, p. 166). The poem's 'viciousness' resides in its comparison between traps set for rabbits and the 'constriction' of a sexual relationship. The shape of the 'snares' - zeros, which shut on nothing - mimics the 'hole in the hot day', which is the speaker's refusal to hear the shrieks of death the...

Reed Way Dasenbrock

In this essay I have taken on a potentially infinite task. Today most critics and theorists hold that the connection between poetry and politics is not limited just to situations in which poets become politically involved in an explicit way, but instead all cultural expression is related to the social and political context whether implicitly or explicitly in which it is produced. In this expansive definition all poetry is political in one way or another, since even the choice to eschew explicit...

Peter McDonald

The book which appeared under the plain title Poems from Faber and Faber in September, 1930, was not only W. H. Auden's first commercially published volume, but also the most significant collection, in terms of its immediate and its longer-term impact, of his entire career as a poet. This is not to propose a reading of that career as an abnormally drawn-out decline quite apart from any of the later critical arguments on whether Auden got better or worse as a writer in the course of his life,...

Matthew Campbell

Before he published his translation of Virgil's Aeneid in 1952, Cecil Day Lewis saw out the 1930s with a version of the Georgics. It was published in 1940, in the early days of the Second World War, a poem of retreat written in a besieged Britain. In the 'Dedicatory Stanzas' (to Stephen Spender) which preface his version, Day Lewis confronts Shelley's declaration of the part that the poet plays in history and asks the question of one of his own most famous lyrics, 'where are the war poets ' it...

Shock

My name, my speech, my self I had forgot. My wife and children came I knew them not. I died. My mother followed. At her call Bereavement, the unheroic, psychic distress, the forgetting in this life matched only by the irony of knowledge in immortality all of these responses could be felt at the heart of the establishment as well as by the Shelleyan radical poet. The tone is often closer to overwhelming irony than debilitating horror, yet from both irony and horror come a set of aesthetic issues...

Beat Aesthetics

One place where a closer examination of Beat texts might begin is with the Romantic ideology on which their aesthetic is predicated. Quintessential features of this ideology include the attributing of superior value to the individual rather than the collective the subjective rather than the objective the irrational rather than the rational innocence rather than experience, with children, blacks, bums and drug addicts being especially deferred to nature rather than the city, though with a degree...

Jacob Korg

The Imagist movement was initiated by a group of English and American poets led by Ezra Pound as a corrective to what they considered to be the verbose, banal and artificial manner of early twentieth-century poetry. Although it was active as a movement only between 1912 and 1917, its emphasis on economy of language and concrete imagery, and its advocacy of free verse, had a lasting influence, and these features became the hallmarks of modern poetry. The formation of Imagism is recorded as...