A companion to twentieth-century poetry by Neil Roberts

By Neil Roberts

Compiled and edited through Neil Roberts (Professor of English Literature at Sheffield University), A significant other To Twentieth-Century Poetry is a powerful anthology of forty-eight scholarly essays drawn from a large choice of authors and academicians learning the advance of poetry in twenty English-speaking international locations over the past century. From context of the poets and their paintings; to the repercussions of the post-colonial age; to the expanding voice of lady poets; in addition to an total tendency in the direction of self-consciousness and self-reflection; A better half To Twentieth-Century Poetry deals knowledgeable and informative insights gleaned from as frequent and numerous a bunch of individuals because the authors of the memorable poems themselves.

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Browning, Pound’s last Victorian, was edited out as he was absorbed into the more assured phrasing and heightened formal speech of Pound’s modernism in the Cantos. The dialogue with the literary past, and the question Pound put to it at this point concerning modern epic form (a question Joyce and Eliot were also asking), would continue, however, to govern this project. The intense subjectivity and introspection Arthur Symons detected in the nineteenth century also proved a continuing, if contradictory, feature in modernism.

One man’s modernism was one culture’s preferred modernism and another modernist’s or other culture’s retrograde traditionalism. There is therefore no avoiding the now common understanding of ‘modernism’ as entailing a network of ‘modernisms’; less a united revolution or homogeneous orthodoxy than a heterodox weave of anticipations, traces, tensions and contested positions. In this sense modernism is a script, written over, revised and above all ‘edited’: in the re-making of tradition as in the composition of individual poems and in the promotion, publication and reception of poets, poems and lines of 22 Peter Brooker and Simon Perril verse – a process involving obstruction and suppression as much as a coming into print and into view.

His watchwords were ‘precision’ and ‘energy’, but above all he was seeking a modernized form for modern content. The accomplished result, arguably, was Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (1920). But these were the years also of the early draft Cantos. In the original Canto 1 (as published in Poetry, June 1917) Pound staged a dialogue with Browning on exactly this question. Was Browning’s youthful long poem Sordello (1840) a model for the modern epic? The Canto opened: Hang it all, there can be but one Sordello!

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