The New Poetry: An Anthology of Twentieth-Century Verse in English

The New Poetry: An Anthology of Twentieth-Century Verse in English

The New Poetry: An Anthology of Twentieth-Century Verse in English

The New Poetry: An Anthology of Twentieth-Century Verse in English

Excerpt

During the last three or four years there has been a remarkable renascence of poetry in both America and England, and an equally extraordinary revival of public interest in the art.

The editors of this anthology wish to present in convenient form representative work of the poets who are today creating what is commonly called "the new poetry"--a phrase no doubt rash and most imperfectly descriptive, since the new in art is always the elder old, but one difficult to replace with any form of words more exact. Much newspaper controversy, and a number of special magazines, testify to the demand for such a book; also many letters to the editors of Poetry asking for information--letters not only from individual lovers of the art, but also from college professors and literary clubs or groups, who have begun to feel that the poetry of today is a vital force no longer to be ignored. Indeed, many critics feel that poetry is coming nearer than either the novel or the drama to the actual life of our time. The magazine Poetry, ever since its foundation in October, 1912, has encouraged this new spirit in the art, and the anthology is a further effort on the part of its editors to present the new spirit to the public.

What is the new poetry? and wherein does it differ from the old? The difference is not in mere details of form, for much poetry infused with the new spirit conforms to the old measures and rhyme-schemes. It is not merely in diction, though the truly modern poet rejects the so-called "poetic" shifts of language--the deems, 'neaths, forsooths, etc., the inversions and high-sounding rotundities, familiar to his predecessors: all the rhetorical excesses through which most Victorian poetry now seems "over-appareled," as a speaker at a Poetry dinner--a lawyer, not a poet--put it in pointing out what the new movement is aiming at. These things are important, but the difference goes deeper than details of form, strikes through them to fundamental integrities.

The new poetry strives for a concrete and immediate realization of life; it would discard the theory, the abstraction, the remoteness, found in all classics not of the first order. It is less vague, less . . .

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