Romantic Image

Romantic Image

Romantic Image

Romantic Image

Excerpt

I have written this essay because I thought I could see a new way of looking at certain assumptions which are of great importance to contemporary poetry and criticism. Very briefly, these assumptions are that the image is, in Wyndham Lewis's phrase, the 'primary pigment' of poetry; and that the poet who uses it is by that very fact differentiated from other men, and seriously at odds with the society in which he has to live. Thoroughly Romantic they may be, but they are none the less fundamental to much twentieth-century thinking about poetry; and this remains true for critics and poets who are militantly anti-Romantic.

Clearly this is a complicated subject, and equally clearly my essay is short and tentative, laying no claim to exhaustive or specialist scholarship. Everybody agrees that dons are deplorably specialised these days, and this is not, as they say, my 'period'. But I have not thrown caution to the winds, and I have accepted scholarly assistance wherever I could get it. (I say this, of course, without prejudice to my benefactors.) I am particularly indebted to Professor Mario Praz's The Romantic Agony (Oxford, 1933); to M. Albert Béguin's L'Ame romantique et le rêve (2nd. ed., Paris, 1946); to Professor A. G. Lehmann 's The Symbolist Aesthetic in France (Oxford, 1950); and to Professor M. H. Abrams' The Mirror and the Lamp (Oxford, 1953).

I have also had the benefit of conversation with Professor Lehmann, and particularly with Mr. Iain Fletcher, who most generously shared his knowledge of the poets of the 1890s, and . . .

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