By Gary Grieve-Carlson
Ezra Pound’s definition of an epic as “a poem containing background” increases questions: how can a poem “contain” heritage? And if it may well, does it support us to contemplate historical past in ways in which traditional historiography can't? Poems Containing historical past: Twentieth-Century American Poetry’s Engagement with the Past, through Gary Grieve-Carlson, argues that twentieth-century American poetry has “contained” and helped its readers to consider heritage in various provocative and strong methods. Tracing the dialogue of the connection among poetry and background from Aristotle’s Poetics to Norman Mailer’s The Armiesof the Night and Hayden White’s Metahistory, the ebook exhibits that at the same time heritage evolves right into a specialist, educational self-discipline within the past due 19th century, and as its practitioners emphasize the clinical facets in their paintings and reduce its literary elements, twentieth-century American poets proceed to take historical past because the topic in their significant poems. occasionally they recommend the perspectives of mainstream historians, as Stephen Vincent Benét does in John Brown’s Body, yet extra usually they problem them, as do Robert Penn Warren in Brother to Dragons, Ezra Pound in TheCantos, or Charles Olson in TheMaximus Poems. In Conquistador, Archibald MacLeish illustrates Aristotle’s declare that poetry tells extra philosophical truths concerning the prior than background does, whereas in Paterson, William Carlos Williams develops a Nietzschean suspicion of history’s price. 3 significant American poets—T. S. Eliot in Four Quartets, Hart Crane in TheBridge, and Carolyn Forché in The Angel of History—present diverse demanding situations to expert historiography’s assumption that the prior is better understood in strictly fabric phrases. Poems Containing History devotes chapters to every of those poets and gives a transparent experience of the seriousness with which American poetry has engaged the earlier, in addition to the good number of these engagements.