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By Angus Fletcher

Amid gloomy forecasts of the decline of the arts and the dying of poetry, Angus Fletcher, a smart and committed literary voice, sounds a notice of robust, tempered optimism. He lays out a clean method of American poetry at huge, the 1st in different a long time, expounding a protection of the paintings that would resonate good into the hot century. Breaking with the drained behavior of treating American poets because the satisfied or rebellious youngsters of ecu romanticism, Fletcher uncovers a unique lineage for American poetry. His aspect of departure is the interesting English author, John Clare; he then facilities at the substantially American imaginative and prescient expressed through Emerson and Walt Whitman. With Whitman this ebook insists that "the entire conception and nature of poetry" wishes concept from technological know-how whether it is to accomplish a really democratic vista. Drawing variously on Complexity conception and on basics of paintings and grammar, Fletcher argues that our most interesting poetry is nature-based, environmentally formed, and descriptive in target, permitting poets like John Ashbery and different contemporaries to find a mysterious pragmatism. severe, resonant, and deeply literary, this account of an American poetics indicates how cutting-edge consumerist and conformist tradition subverts the mind's eye of a loose humans. whereas centering on American imaginative and prescient, the argument extends our horizon, awesome a blow opposed to all economically sanctioned assaults upon the finer, greater human capacities. Poetry, the writer continues, is relevant to any coherent imaginative and prescient of lifestyles. (20040125)

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Extra resources for A New Theory for American Poetry: Democracy, the Environment, and the Future of Imagination

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We can see this development easily in classic European fiction, where the familiar and hence “improved” landscape of Switzerland and its quaint towns and villages belong finally to the Grand Tour. Even in twentiethcentury fiction of an author like Hermann Hesse, this landscape, which possesses a highly ordered sublimity, finds its equivalent in the Hudson River Valley and similar views in the United States.

Its concern is to advance active change in social conditions, so that when Oliver Goldsmith attacks callous disre-                          gard of poverty, in The Deserted Village and elsewhere,2 such an awareness is one thing for a Marxist, and another for a theorist of poetry such as myself. We may both be interested in these conditions of poverty, but each from a different angle. Understanding the common as a function of poetic form and language—the subject of Wordsworth’s Preface to the Lyrical Ballads—requires an ecologically detailed accounting for its expression, which is only one of many reasons why a criticism that fails to recognize the descriptive tradition and its influx into the Romantic cannot possibly succeed in thinking through the Platonism of Romantic vision.

Such was the concern of Collins’ Ode on the Popular Superstitions of the Highlands of Scotland (1749–50). In a secular context the post-Enlightenment poet has always to deal with the antithet- The Argument of Form  ical claims of fact and spirit, as if the genius of place were always at war with the facts of place. Much of the argument of this book therefore concerns the idea that only by understanding poetic environments can we understand the internal conflict between daimon and description.

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