The Metaphysical Passion: Seven Modern American Poets and the Seventeenth-Century Tradition

By Sona Raiziss | Go to book overview

11 THE FUGITIVES

THE FUGITIVES have been the most nearly integrated poetic group in America. They do not constitute a movement so much as a coterie unified by convictions about the South and by common literary opinions and practices. Since metaphysical poetry often responds to the mental climate, we must regard the economic and social ideas of the Fugitives as factors in their writing. Personal history and place brought these poets together, and their later development has perpetuated a certain sympathy among them. In an anonymous foreword to its first issue The Fugitive, a magazine appearing in April 1922 in Nashville, Tennessee, protested against the state of life and poetry in the South at that time: "THE FUGITIVE flees from nothing faster than from the high-caste Brahmins of the Old South." The South shares in the destiny of America, and therefore its economic and intellectual life needed rehabilitation. By common consent, the Fugitives began early to show in a set of social and poetic tenets their distaste for the ideas and methods which they eschewed. "The group mind is evidently neither radical nor reactionary, but catholic and perhaps excessively earnest, in literary dogma."1

John Crowe Ransom, Donald Davidson, Merrill Moore, and Allen Tate were among the initial members of a literary enterprise that in spite of its short life left an impress on our current literature and numbered among its contributors (besides Warren) Robert Graves, J. G. Fletcher, Hart Crane, and Laura Riding. Ransom had already published a volume of verse, and in the second issue of the magazine Tate gave incipient evidence of originality:

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The Metaphysical Passion: Seven Modern American Poets and the Seventeenth-Century Tradition
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Part One The Temper Of Metaphysical Poetry 1
  • 1- Definitions 3
  • 2- The Poets and Their Subjects 11
  • 3- Methods, Manner, and Mood 21
  • 4- Wit and the Objective Equivalent 35
  • Part Two Sources of The Metaphysical Impulse 57
  • 5- Time of Transition 59
  • 6- Seventeenth-Century Conflicts 79
  • 7- Analogies 103
  • 8- Twentieth-Century Tensions 114
  • 9- Phases of the Modern Crisis 133
  • Part Three Seven Poets: Text and Context 165
  • 10- T. S. Eliot 167
  • 11- The Fugitives 184
  • 12- Macleish-Wylie-Crane 212
  • Notes 242
  • Partial Bibliography Of Critical Works from 1900 293
  • Index of Names 319
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