By Gary Grieve-Carlson
Ezra Pound's definition of an epic as "a poem containing history" increases questions: how can a poem "contain" heritage? And if it could, does it aid us to consider historical past in ways in which traditional historiography can't? Poems Containing historical past: Twentieth-Century American Poetry's Engagement with the earlier, via Gary Grieve-Carlson, argues that twentieth-century American poetry has "contained" and helped its readers to consider historical past in numerous provocative and strong methods. Tracing the dialogue of the connection among poetry and historical past from Aristotle's Poetics to Norman Mailer's The Armies of the evening and Hayden White's Metahistory, the ebook exhibits that while historical past evolves right into a specialist, educational self-discipline within the past due 19th century, and as its practitioners emphasize the clinical points in their paintings and reduce its literary features, twentieth-century American poets proceed to take heritage because the topic in their significant poems. occasionally they advocate the perspectives of mainstream historians, as Stephen Vincent Benét does in John Brown's physique, yet extra frequently they problem them, as do Robert Penn Warren in Brother to Dragons, Ezra Pound within the Cantos, or Charles Olson within the Maximus Poems. In Conquistador, Archibald MacLeish illustrates Aristotle's declare that poetry tells extra philosophical truths in regards to the earlier than background does, whereas in Paterson, William Carlos Williams develops a Nietzschean suspicion of history's worth. 3 significant American poets—T. S. Eliot in 4 Quartets, Hart Crane within the Bridge, and Carolyn Forché within the Angel of History—present diverse demanding situations to expert historiography's assumption that the previous is better understood in strictly fabric phrases. Poems Containing historical past devotes chapters to every of those poets and provides a transparent feel of the seriousness with which American poetry has engaged the prior, in addition to the good number of these engagements.