What Is Not Poetry?

THIS CHAPTER is divided into two parts; the first part is autobiographical and the second is theoretical. The first part tells the story of how I became a critic and the second part is an outline of my poetics, such as they are. These are two views of the same subject and I hope each section will throw light on the other.

The present essays are intended to be the last criticism I shall ever write. In this book I am getting together those few essays which I think worth keeping and which I hope will be of some help to young poets and would-be critics. It is the small mass of my own discarded criticism which I want to mention here before going on to my ideas of the theory and practice of poetry.

Whenever I meet a young poet I ask him among other things how much he knows about criticism. If he says he knows nothing I breathe a sigh of relief for both of us; if he begins to talk about criticism instead of poetry I know the conversation will soon grind to an embarrassing halt. On the other hand,

-263-

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In Defense of Ignorance
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • To the Reader ix
  • The Critic In Spite of Himself 3
  • T. S. Eliot: the Death Of Literary Judgment 35
  • Ezra Pound: the Scapegoat Of Modern Poetry 61
  • W. B. Yeats: Trial By Culture 87
  • The Retreat of W. H. Auden 115
  • William Carlos Williams: The True Contemporary 143
  • Dylan Thomas 171
  • The First White Aboriginal 187
  • The Jewish Writer In America 205
  • Poets and Psychologists 219
  • The Unemployed Magician 239
  • What is Not Poetry? 263
  • Poets of the Cosmic Consciousness 287
  • The Greatest Living Author 313
  • About the Author *
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