American and British Verse in the Twentieth Century: The Poetry that Matters

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Ashgate, 2003 - Poetry - 254 pages
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Why is it that almost no one can quote more than a few words from any American or British poet since (say) Robert Lowell or Philip Larkin? asks critic and poet Colin Falck. This volume is a critical history of 20th-century poetry as well as a study of what the author sees as the decline of that poetry during the century's last three decades. Basing his argument in the ideas of English and German romanticism, and developing further the claims of his Myth, Truth and Literature (1994), Colin Falck provides philosophically grounded discussions of such issues as the need for modern poetry to be a poetry of experience, the relationship between poetry and philosophy, the triumph of talk as modern poetry's prevailing diction, the effects on poetry of postmodernist self-consciousness, the centrality of despair to the modern lyric, the means by which modern poetry can validly engage with history, the place of nature and myth in the poetic imagination, and the revelatory power of rhythm, meter and the singing line. as Hardy, Yeats, Eliot and Stevens (and from some of their 19th-century precursors) all the way through to such acclaimed poets as Jorie Graham and Hugo Williams. His argument calls for a middlebrow revival in response to the highbrow deviation of modernism and the late-20th-century professionalization of poetry. It ends with an ambitious claim for poetry as an inscription of reality as part of an aesthetic fundamentalism which may be the true religion of the future.

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