Revaluation: Tradition & Development in English Poetry

Revaluation: Tradition & Development in English Poetry

Revaluation: Tradition & Development in English Poetry

Revaluation: Tradition & Development in English Poetry

Excerpt

Though the chapters of this book were written as separate essays, the book was conceived first and the essays were conceived as part of it. The book was planned when I was writing my New Bearings in English Poetry, which offers an account of the situation as it appears to-day; indeed, the planning of the one book was involved in the planning of the other. An account of the present of poetry, to be worth anything, must be from a clearly realized point of view, and such a point of view, if it is critically responsible, must have been determined and defined as much in relation to the past as to the present.

The book on modern poetry did in fact take explicit bearings in the past; but these were kept to what was strictly necessary and to the most simplified minimum statement. The aim here is to give the full perspective; to complete the account of the present of English poetry with the correlated account of the past.

But these metaphors of space, and even these temporal terms 'past' and 'present,' are equivocal. It must not be assumed that the account of the past given here is merely ancillary to a sovereign interest in what is being written to-day. The point may be made by means of two simple propositions about the business of the critic. He endeavours to see the poetry of the present as con-

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