The 20th Century in Poetry
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The history of the twentieth century as seen through the eyes of the greatest poets of our time.
This groundbreaking anthology presents in chronological order over four hundred poems written during the twentieth century. The authors, both published poets themselves, give an overview of each period of history, while notes to the poems place each one in its historical context and trace the century's poetic development. Concise biographies for each poet complete the anthology.By organizing the poems in chronological order, readers will see poets in a new light. Here A. E. Houseman, for example, rubs shoulders with T.S. Eliot, showing that traditional forms can hold their own against the modernist orthodoxy. All the major events of the twentieth century are reflected in the choice of poems within these pages.
Including poems by noel coward, Rudyard Kipling, James Joyce, D. H. Lawrence, Robert Frost, G. K. Chesterton, Ezra Pound, Philip Larkin, T. S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, Langston Hughes, William Carlos Williams, W. H. Auden, e. e. cummings, Dylan Thomas, Kingsley Amis, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Frank O’hara, Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, John Updike, Robert Penn Warren, among a host of others, this richly rewarding collection captures the history of the twentieth century within one monumental volume.
stumbling, sewers, my sacked shop, roofs, a dis-world ai! Death was a German home-country. ‘Death is a German expert’ translates the words ‘Der Tod ist ein Meister aus Deutschland’, from the ‘Todesfuge’ (‘Fugue of Death’) by Paul Celan (1920—70). The modulation to ‘a German home-country’ at the close recalls Heinrich Heine’s ‘I once had a German homeland. It was a dream.’ (Both poets were Jewish.) Varshava is Warsaw. 1965 from Briggflatts BASIL BUNTING Brag, sweet tenor bull, descant on
his president ‘completely unafraid’ in his ‘absurd protective booties’ at the site of the Three Mile Island accident (at a nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania), his laconic comment was, ‘the fool’. As the Cold War moved into a fifth decade, Vincent O’Sullivan’s Pilate, having ‘killed a god’, was a man who had ‘dabbled in chaos’ and voted ‘as you do’. Two striking poems about city dumps written a decade apart — Robert Gray’s ‘Flames and Dangling Wire’ in the late Seventies, and Elizabeth Spires’s
inside … brass handles … tries to find alternatives … that long thing where you lie for words like coffin that have slipped her mind and forgetting, not the funeral, makes her cry. And Anne, who treats her roommates to her ‘news’ though every day her news is just the same how she’d just come back from such a lovely cruise to that famous island … I forget its name … Born before the Boer War, me, and so I’m too old to remember I suppose … then tries again … the island’s called … you know
but influential group of Imagists, to his inspired editorial work on T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, his impact on generations of subsequent poets, and the endless labour on his own Cantos, Pound proved a formidable and dominant force. E. J. PRATT (1882—1964) from ‘The Titanic’ Born in Newfoundland, Pratt trained to follow his father into the Methodist ministry (which he chose not to do), and studied philosophy at Toronto. Some of his poetry dealt with epic actions in Canadian history, such as
morale and shame defeatists. Immortalising the young pilots who saw off the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain — ‘Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few’ — he called on his beleaguered countrymen to stand firm against the devastation that Hitler’s bombers proceeded to unleash: ‘Let us … brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its commonwealth lasts for a thousand years, men will say, “This was their finest hour”.’