By Michael Thurston
Poetry makes not anything occur, wrote W. H. Auden in 1939, expressing a trust that got here to dominate American literary associations within the overdue 1940s--the concept that sturdy poetry can't, and shouldn't, be politically engaged. against this, Michael Thurston the following appears to be like again to the Twenties and Thirties to a new release of poets who wrote with the suitable wish and the deep conviction that they might movement their audiences to motion. He deals an enticing new examine the political poetry of Edwin Rolfe, Langston Hughes, Ezra Pound, and Muriel Rukeyser. Thurston combines shut textual interpreting of the poems with examine into their historic context to bare how those 4 poets deployed the assets of culture and experimentation to contest and redefine political logic. within the technique, he demonstrates that the cultured censure lower than which a lot partisan writing has worked wishes dramatic revision. even though every one of those poets labored with various types and towards assorted ends, Thurston indicates that their options be triumphant as poetry. He argues that partisan poetry calls for mirrored image not just on how we assessment poems but in addition on what we worth in poems and, as a result, which poems we bring up.
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Additional resources for Making Something Happen: American Political Poetry between the World Wars
C. Stedman’s American Anthology, – by poems in hymn meter and quatrains, the sonnet is well represented in these two most common volumes in American poetry readers’ libraries. 23 While the form does not appear as frequently in the pages of newspapers, which also, it must be remembered, regularly published verse, it is not uncommon to see the occasional sonnet in the New York Times, Boston Globe or San Francisco Examiner. 25 On one hand, it is precisely this familiarity that makes it so difﬁcult to rearticulate the sonnet to a speciﬁc set of social aims.
The almost erotic energy of aesthetic experience is harnessed to the motor of political ideas through rearticulation and then works to reshape the popular imaginary, which in turn reweaves the hegemonic fabric. And that is cultural work. Throughout this book, I focus on the textual acts that poets, as political agents, perform. These acts have their primary eﬀects in the poems’ aesthetic dimension—in the thematic development, rhetorical execution, and formal embodiment of the poems’ political energies.
At the same time, though, the sonnet, awkwardly closing its rhyming, metered lines around the bloated image and the bombastic exhortation, comes to seem part of the dying system, an example of the ineﬃcacious speech Rolfe thematically depicts. But ‘‘Portrait of a Death’’ also exploits aspects of the form it seems to strain against: the enormous popularity and familiarity of the sonnet, its immediate recognizability among audiences. While it is outnumbered in Francis Palgrave’s Golden Treasury and E.
Making Something Happen: American Political Poetry between the World Wars by Michael Thurston