The Poet and the Gilded Age: Social Themes in Late 19th Century American Verse

The Poet and the Gilded Age: Social Themes in Late 19th Century American Verse

The Poet and the Gilded Age: Social Themes in Late 19th Century American Verse

The Poet and the Gilded Age: Social Themes in Late 19th Century American Verse

Excerpt

THE EXPLICIT PURPOSE OF THIS STUDY WILL BE self-evident: to re-examine the Gilded Age in the light of the verse produced by its citizens. This should tell us something more about the age, and something more about the function of poetry. There are also a number of implicit purposes to which attention may be called. These tangential implications may be located by considering this effort as a case study bearing on three closely related problems.

Most obviously, this is a case study which bears on the stature of the poet as a responsive citizen. It would be misleading to assert that the poet and his work had fallen into neglect; rather, a great deal of critical attention has been directed toward this literary form, dating at least from the "poetry renaissance" of 1912. Much of this attention has taken the form of detailed exegesis, exercises in etymology, or hypotheses in applied psychology. The obscure, the personal, the "private" aspects of verse have received preponderant emphasis. This attention has been necessary, and its results should be applauded; but the disproportionate stress applied to these aspects of poetry has tended to remove it from its rightful place as an important method of social communication. In too many of our American newspapers poetry, as well as other creative forms, is discussed--if at all--within the pages of the woman's section. Robert Frost, during an interview at the Library of Congress in the spring of 1961, complained that whenever he discovered a man reading a volume of his verse . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.