The Routledge Anthology of Poets on Poets: Poetic Responses to English Poetry from Chaucer to Yeats

The Routledge Anthology of Poets on Poets: Poetic Responses to English Poetry from Chaucer to Yeats

The Routledge Anthology of Poets on Poets: Poetic Responses to English Poetry from Chaucer to Yeats

The Routledge Anthology of Poets on Poets: Poetic Responses to English Poetry from Chaucer to Yeats


The Routledge Anthology of Poets on Poets collects together writings by all the major poetic figures from Chaucer to Yeats demonstrating their vivid responses to each other, ranging from elegiac eulogy to burlesque and satire. The anthology is arranged in two sections. Part One contains poets' writings on the nature, qualities and purpose of poetry Part Two is a chronological collection of poets' writings on their peers, with an individual entry for each poet. Each extract is presented in modernized spelling and punctuation, and is carefully annotated to provide full explanations of unfamiliar phrases and references. The index has been fully revised for this paperback edition. The Routledge Anthology of Poets on Poets will be stimulating and enjoyable for anyone interested in the history of English poetry, but will also be an invaluable collection of primary source material for students and their teachers.


This volume contains a collection of poetic responses by the English poets to one another's work. It does not attempt to represent the full range of remarks which English poets have made about their fellow practitioners, but, rather, concentrates on those moments when, in reflecting on their art in general, on their own work, or on the work of one or more of their peers, they have been prompted to exhibit some features of the very activity which they are describing or commending. The majority of the items included are full-dress poems, or extracts from larger poems, but I have included poets' prose comments in those instances where the writing seems, in whole or in part, to be 'aspiring to the condition of poetry'-where the writer is deploying rhythmical and metaphorical effects, verbal colouring, heightened diction, or impassioned rhetoric to a degree that one would not normally expect to find in discursive prose. In the Introduction, I attempt to suggest the particular interest of poets' specifically poetic responses to their art and to their fellow artists.

Any anthologist (particularly one faced with a body of material as large as that potentially eligible for the present volume) must establish clear and reasoned principles of selection if the end-product is to seem a coherent book, rather than merely an arbitrarily assembled collection of snippets. But an anthologist must also recognise that, however unified he can make his collection, however much each of his extracts is freshly illuminated by the new environment in which it finds itself, an anthology can never be more than a provisional holding-together of a selective body of material, each item of which is temporarily 'on loan' from a number of other contexts in which it has slightly different kinds of significance.

Many items in this anthology are excerpted from larger works-the most immediate and important of all the contexts in which they live. Beyond that, they form parts of their authors' total oeuvres. But they are also parts of other larger wholes. The English poets' responses to one another's work can be only very partially represented by collecting their explicit statements. To gain a complete sense of what the English poets meant to one another, one would have to take stock of the numerous and diverse ways in which the work of one poet is present in others' work: in translation, adaptation, imitation, parody, allusion, echo-modes which often reveal poets' reactions to their peers more fully and intimately than their explicit comments.

English poets have, moreover, been sometimes more deeply inspired and influenced by foreign poets than by their own compatriots. And the work of some poets shows that they were deeply affected by peers on whom they left either little or no direct commentary, or commentary which gives a very misleading or imperfect sense of the nature of their interest. A comprehensive presentation of the subject covered by the present volume could therefore only be achieved by reprinting large sections-perhaps, in some cases, virtually the whole-of the poets'

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