By R. P. Draper
This severe survey of contemporary poetry from Thomas Hardy to Seamus Heaney considers either the self-consciously innovative concepts of Modernism and extra conventional advancements, bearing in mind the level to which "English" can now not be equat
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Extra info for An Introduction to Twentieth-Century Poetry in English
The span of Hardy's vision is remarkable; he is equally effective in close-up and at long-range. s The equivalent among the lyric poems is to be found, for example, in the majestic remoteness of 'The Convergence of the Twain' and the democratic immediacy of 'An August Midnight'. Yet close-up and distance also interact with each other. The Titanic's predestined encounter with the iceberg which sinks her becomes an ironic 'consummation', the result of which, lying on the Atlantic oceanbed, is seen in weird specificity by 'sea-worm' and 'dim moon-eyed fishes'; and in 'An August Midnight' the concrete simplicity of 'A longlegs, a moth, and a dumbledore', which share the scene with the author himself composing the poem, challenge his sense of what humility means, and are credited impressively, yet not pompously, with knowing 'Earth-secrets that know not I'.
It records the destruction of a dead cat on 'an icy day' by burying it and then burning its box. Getting rid of a cat in such a way would seem to be no great matter; in this poem, however, it is not any cat, but 'the cat', and it is, implicitly at least, precious to an intimate group designated as 'We'. The language accords it the dignity of a proper burial, and the burning of the box perhaps suggests a funeral pyre. There are other suggestions, too, of tradition - and, more particularly, human tradition - in the burial of the cat.
Stevenson and Robert Bridges. 2 Gerard Manley Hopkins's 'sprung rhythm' develops the implications of such theorising to a greater degree, and with his concentrated and highly innovative treatment of language produces something much more radically modern than Hardy. His roots, however, are in the same tradition. Hardy, Housman, Frost, Kipling and Graves 35 If Eliot's work has become the prime example of modernism in poetry, Hardy's poetry has become the standard for that alternative tradition which is distinctively modern, but keeps its connection with rational discourse.
An Introduction to Twentieth-Century Poetry in English by R. P. Draper