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The first comprehensive history of modern poetry in English from the 1890s to the 1920s, this book embraces an era of enormous creative variety—the formative period during which the Romantic traditions of the past were abandoned or transformed and a major new literature created. By the end of the period covered, The Waste Land, Lawrence's Birds, Beasts and Flowers, Stevens' Harmonium, and Pound's Draft of XVI Cantos had been published, and the first post-Eliot generation of poets was beginning to emerge.
More than a hundred poets are treated in this volume, and many more are noticed in passing. Mr. Perkins discusses each poet and type of poetry with keen critical appreciation. He traces opposed and evolving assumptions about poetry, and considers the effects on poetry of its changing audiences, of premises and procedures in literary criticism, of the publishing outlets poets could hope to use, and the interrelations of poetry with developments in the other arts—the novel, painting, film, music—as well as in social, political, and intellectual life. The poetry of the United States and that of the British Isles are seen in interplay rather than separately.
This book is an important contribution to the understanding of modern literature. At the same time, it throws new light on the cultural history of both America and Britain in the twentieth century.
PART ONE: POETRY AROUND THE TURN OF THE CENTURY
1. BRITISH POETRY IN THE 1890s: INTRODUCTION
The Romantic Legacy. British Modes and Poets of the Decade. The Literary Milieu.
2. THE VICTORIAN TRADITION AND THE CELTIC TWILIGHT
Sir William Watson. Stephen Phillips and "Michael Field."
Alice Meynell. Francis Thompson. The Celtic Twilight.
Yeats. William Sharp.
3. ARS VICTRIX: THE LONDON AVANT-GARDE
Character of the Avant-Garde. L'Art pour l'art. Ernest Dowson. Lionel Johnson.
The Decadence. Wratislaw. Barlas. Wilde's Salome. Symbolism. Yeats.
Symons' The Symbolist Movement in Literature. Impressionism and Arthur Symons. Pater.
4. THE NARRATIVE PROTEST
Reactions Against the Poetry of Ars Victrix. Narrative Poets. Rudyard Kipling.
John Davidson. Chesterton. Noyes. Masefield.
5. THE AMERICAN MILIEU, 1890-1912
The Isolation of American Poets. Poetic Innocence. Preoccupation with England.
The Recoil from Contemporary America. The Poetry Market.
6. THE BEGINNINGS OF THE MODERN MOVEMENT IN AMERICA
The Genteel Tradition. Santayana. Stickney. Lodge. Moody. Reese. Tabb. Reactions Against the Genteel Mode. The Vagabond Theme. Hovey and Carman. Edwin Markham: Poetry of Social Protest. Popular Entertainers and Newspaper Poets. Riley. Field. Crawford. Stephen Crane. Edwin Arlington Robinson.
PART TWO: POETRY IN RAPPORT WITH A PUBLIC
7. TRANSITIONS AND PREMISES
The Dominant Mode. Poets and Schools.
8. THOMAS HARDY
His Life. General Character of His Poetry. Style and Form. Tentative and Opposed Responses. The Philosophical Pessimist. The Sense of Vista. A Poet of Nature. The Dynasts. His Influence on Later Poets.
9. CRAFTSMEN OF THE BEAUTIFUL AND THE AGREEABLE
General Characteristics of the Mode. Robert Bridges. Laurence Binyon. Sturge Moore. Walter de la Mare. Trevelyan, Hewlett, Belloc, and Flecker.
Abercrombie and Bottomley. A. E. Housman.
10. THE GEORGIAN POETS
The Georgian Anthologies. Rupert Brooke. Georgian Realism. Gibson. The Georgian Countryside. Edward Thomas. W. H. Davies. Edmund Blunden. Ralph Hodgson. W. J. Turner. The Georgian Compromise.
11. ROBERT FROST
His Life. Frost and the Age. The Spoken Language. Dramatic Characterization.
Poetry in the Familiar. Narrative Elements. The Personality of the Speaker.
Unsaying the Romantics. Frostian Irony.
12. THE IRISH SCENE
The Irish Milieu. Patriotic Verse. George Russell. Reaction Against the Celtic Twilight. James Stephens. Synge. The Folk Movement. Colum, Campbell, and F. R. Higgins.
13. POETRY OF WORLD WAR I
American Poets and the War. English Poets: The First Phase. Graves. Blunden. The Later Phase. Sassoon. Owen. Rosenberg.
Part Three: Popular Modernism
14. THE NEW POETRY OF AMERICA
Phases of the Modern Movement. The Reaction against the Genteel Mode. The Widening of Subject Matter. The Proliferation of Formal Experiment. The Spoken Language. Discontinuous Composition. Free Verse. The New Audience and Publishers. Little Magazines. The Contemporary Perception of Groups and Movements.
The Imagist Movement. The Imagist Doctrine.
The Imagist Poem. Aldington. H.D. Fletcher. Amy Lowell. Sir Herbert Read.
16. POETRY FOR A DEMOCRACY
Vachel Lindsay. Edgar Lee Masters. Carl Sandburg. John V. A. Weaver. Lola Ridge.
17. CONSERVATIVE AND REGIONAL POETS OF AMERICA
Sara Teasdale. Ridgeley Torrence. Donald Evans. Adelaide Crapsey.
Edna St. Vincent Millay. Elinor Wylie. Robert Hillyer. Conrad Aiken. The Benéts. Regional Poetry.
18. BLACK POETS OF AMERICA: THE FIRST PHASE
Types and History of Black Poetry. Poets of the Turn of the Century.
Paul Lawrence Dunbar. W. S. Braithwaite. Fenton Johnson. Claude McKay.
Jean Toomer. Countie Cullen. Langston Hughes. James Weldon Johnson. Sterling Brown.
19. BRITISH POETRY AFTER THE WAR, 1918-1928
Modernist and Traditional Modes. Beginnings of the New Criticism. Richard Church. A. E. Coppard. Andrew Young. Robert Graves. Wheels. Edith Sitwell.
Aldous Huxley. Harold Monro. Edgell Rickword. D. H. Lawrence.
PART FOUR: THE BEGINNINGS OF THE HIGH MODERNIST MODE
20. EZRA POUND: THE EARLY CAREER
The High Modernist Mode. Pound before Imagism. Pound's Modernization: The First Phase. Ford Maddox Hueffer. T. E. Hulme. Efficient Style. Fenollosa's
"Essay on the Chinese Written Character." Vorticism. Cathay. Lustra.
Homage to Sextus Propertius. Pound's Modernization: The Second Phase.
The Ur Cantos. Eliot and Joyce. The Fourth Canto. Douglas and the Economic System. "Hugh Selwyn Mauberley." The Cantos. Later Life.
21. T. S. ELIOT: THE EARLY CAREER
Early Life. The Encounter with Laforgue. England and Marriage.
A Growing Reputation. The Waste Land. The Urban Setting. Leitmotifs.
The "Mythical Method." Allusion. The Condition of Man. Eliot's Criticism. Later Life.
22. THE NEW YORK AVANT-GARDE: STEVENS AND WILLIAMS TO THE EARLY 1920s AND MARIANNE MOORE
Others. Alfred Kreymborg. Stieglitz. The Armory Show. A Compressed Idiom.
Mina Loy. Maxwell Bodenheim. Wallace Stevens. William Carlos Williams. Marianne Moore.
23. WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS
Early Life. His Father. Occult Lore. Symbolism and Reverie. Irish Nationalism.
Maud Gonne. The Rhymers' Club. Remaking a Self, 1899-1914.
The Abbey Theatre. A New Level of Achievement, 1914-1928. Ezra Pound and Noh Drama. A Vision. A System of Symbols. Yeatsian Talk. Thinking in Antitheses.
Yeats's Last Decade. Yeats and the Modern Movements in Poetry.