Poetry's Anntane: Frail, Gaunt, and Small

Through the poetry blog Whimsy Speaks I discovered 11 September 2001, the Response of Poetry, which seemed important given my last post.

Last Friday I was visiting my friend Anne in Charlottesville and over tapas we were talking about the state of poetry and the world. Somehow we got on the subject of how grim the mood of poetry was right now — the August issue of Poetry Magazine was full of new authors but just carried a weight that was immense. I haven’t read the September issue but the titles of the poems — “Edward Hopper Study: Hotel Room” — don’t exactly convey much hope.

I recall how just prior to World War I the mood in the creative community was one of foreboding. And although a tenth grade reading of Tess of the D’Ubervilles nearly destroyed any regard I might have had for Thomas Hardy, his poetry has managed to seep into my life. My favorite Hardy poem is “During Wind and Rain”, but in this context — talking about the grim future-vision of the artistic community — Hardy’s “The Darkling Thrush” comes to mind. There does seem to be a growing foreboding in the artistic community — certainly among the poets. Charles Simic’s poem Against Whatever It Is That’s Encroaching is a few years old, but it perfectly captures the feeling out there right now.

Or maybe I’m wrong — perhaps I’m misguided in trying to identify the aggregate mood of the entire academy of poets. But it really does feel like there is something happening in poetry — a sort of premonition of the future, poets catching the first scent of the fire that is about to start raging.

2 Responses to “Poetry's Anntane: Frail, Gaunt, and Small”

  1. anne Says:

    “And the rotten rose is ripped from the wall.”

    Today’s IM chat before lunch:
    A: george, i have become bleak about the future of our world. i expect a life of great suffering for all but the very wealthy, world-wide, including pestilence, extreme weather, rampant cancers, and widescale death. i am not an apocalyptic christian, yet i have come to fear the apocalypse.
    G: I hear ya.
    A: thanks for hearing me.
    G: There are 150 million homeless itinerant laborers in Chinese coastal cities.

  2. Dad Says:

    Hmmm–how about WB Yeats, “The Second Coming”? Or even WH Auden–“September 1, 1939”?

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