Friday, January 27, 2006

The Making of a Poem

By Stephen Spender

Collections of essays about poetry. I am reading the second chapter "Greatness of Aim" right now and it is filled with much common sense regarding the poet's aim, using Dylan Thomas and WH Auden as examples to do so. Nice follow through after the first chapter's discussion of poets stuck in the "cage of contemporary attitudes".

He closes the second chapter with:

The most important task is for the poet to grasp at as much of modern life as he is capable of imaginatively digesting, and turn it into his rich and strange poetry, through channels of form which he can only discover for himself. We do not live in an age of shared values, and a universally recognized style. Talk of universitaires being able to decide the future of poetry by brushed-up academic standards got from lectures on criticism is a trap for the unwary, a trap which all too easily might result in second-rate poetry about second-rate lives.
He saw the decade of the 1960's clearly on the horizon and was seemingly open to its possibilities. I haven't read enough of him yet to know how he would judge what a second-rate life actually is. Next chapter is the title chapter. More later.

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