The Metamorphic Tradition in Modern Poetry: Essays on the Work of Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, T. S. Eliot, Hart Crane, Randall Jarrell, and William Butler Yeats

The Metamorphic Tradition in Modern Poetry: Essays on the Work of Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, T. S. Eliot, Hart Crane, Randall Jarrell, and William Butler Yeats

The Metamorphic Tradition in Modern Poetry: Essays on the Work of Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, T. S. Eliot, Hart Crane, Randall Jarrell, and William Butler Yeats

The Metamorphic Tradition in Modern Poetry: Essays on the Work of Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, T. S. Eliot, Hart Crane, Randall Jarrell, and William Butler Yeats

Excerpt

The principal aim of The Metamorphic Tradition in Modern Poetry is to give a sense of direction in the exploration of what to many readers is a New World, the world of contemporary verse. Like Wallace Fowlie The Clown's Grail, which traces love in its literary expression, it seeks to isolate one aspect of art, not only in order to illuminate the meanings of that aspect itself but also to draw attention to and facilitate the understanding of the work of those who have made the present century distinctive in poetry. Any one of a number of themes might have served with equal effectiveness as a focal point in such an examination, directed at bringing to bear on poetry the concentration necessary for sympathetic reception. Metamorphosis, however, summarizing as it does man's desire and need to transcend the psychologically repressive conditions of his mechanized milieu, is fitted to serve as the subject for a study that is intended to do more than supply an Ariadne's thread as guide for the willing reader. Metamorphosis begins and ends the history of man, from baptism to resurrection, affecting the world within him and the world without.

Much of the apathy, even antagonism, felt for long poems such as The Cantos, The Bridge, The Waste Land, and Paterson is that these are considered only in their parts, not as wholes. Just as any lifetime -- and surely the first and last of these works represent the lifetimes of their authors -- cannot be evaluated until viewed as a unit, so must an extensive poem be regarded as what it is, a tissue of relationships. Any criticism, then, which does not take into account re-

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