Late Poems, 1968-1993: Attitudinizings Verse-Wise, While Fending for One's Selph, and in a Style Somewhat Artificially Colloquial

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Kenneth Burke continued to write poetry after the 1968 publication of his Collected Poems, but until now the poetry from the last quarter century of his life has remained largely unpublished, hiding in the mass of papers at his farmhouse in Andover, New Jersey. Suggesting that the Burke canon is not complete without these works, Julie Whitaker and David Blakesley here assemble the poems that the celebrated critic wrote between 1968 and his death. The collection of more than 150 poems provides new evidence that ...
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Overview

Kenneth Burke continued to write poetry after the 1968 publication of his Collected Poems, but until now the poetry from the last quarter century of his life has remained largely unpublished, hiding in the mass of papers at his farmhouse in Andover, New Jersey. Suggesting that the Burke canon is not complete without these works, Julie Whitaker and David Blakesley here assemble the poems that the celebrated critic wrote between 1968 and his death. The collection of more than 150 poems provides new evidence that Burke continued "dancing an attitude" until the end of his life.

In his introduction, Blakesley lays out the relationship between the poems and Burkean theory, including the evolution of both during the writer’s last three decades. Although some of these poems clearly resonate best in light of Burke’s more prominent works on rhetoric and literary criticism, Blakesley argues that it would be a disservice to attribute the poetry’s value strictly to what it says about Burkean theory. The poems reveal much about the man himself: an accomplished scholar reflecting on the richness of a life fully lived, a husband eloquently struggling with the death of his wife, a voracious thinker looking eagerly to the future. The poems take to heart Burke’s pronouncement, made in The Philosophy of Literary Form, that the poet enacts literature as equipment for living.

In her preface, Whitaker explains the principles she employed in sifting through the vast quantity of articles, papers, and letters to uncover Burke’s later poems. She also discloses Burke’s intent to collect and publish another volume of poetry, touches on her personal relationship with him, and offers her observations on the place poetry held in his life and thought.

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What People Are Saying

Jack Selzer
"No one in history, I'll wager, wrote more words than Kenneth Burke. Some of them, fortunately, were the remarkable poems of his later life-playful, funny words, aphoristic and surprising; death-defying and moving words; intellectually stimulating and occasionally confounding words. Unpretentious, personal, and delightfully idiosyncratic, Late Poems is in some ways like Burke’s novel Towards a Better Life: the ironic, poignant lament of a social reformer, the verbal virtuosity of an original ‘language poet,’ a revealing window to the man and his work."
author of Kenneth Burke in Greenwich Village: Conversing with the Moderns, 1915-1931
William H. Rueckert
"Above everything else, Kenneth Burke loved words and he especially loved to tinker with them. He had a very playful mind and was much given to ironic perceptions of the foibles and absurdities of the human condition. In his later years he wrote a great many poems, including verbal concoctions he called flowerishes, which express this comic side of the many-sided Burke. They remind us that it is a grave mistake to take ourselves too seriously, for too much of the time. They make good, often very entertaining reading."
author of Kenneth Burke and the Drama of Human Relations and Encounters with Kenneth Burke
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781570035890
  • Publisher: University of South Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2005
  • Series: Studies in Rhetoric/Communication Series
  • Pages: 228
  • Product dimensions: 6.46 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction : Kenneth Burke, word-man
An eye-poem for the ear, with prose introduction, glosses, and after-words ("eye-crossing - from Brooklyn to Manhattan") 3
A count-in 29
Statements of attitude 31
Vietnam 32
Histories - with or without rhyme 33
Major lobotomy 34
A juxtaposition 36
On his 'scutcheon : Neanmoins 36
Towards freedom 36
[Oh, she wasn't very pretty] 37
Her will 38
An aging versifier to his verses 38
Three poems of abandonment 39
One more autumnal 45
An anti-Pentecostal deposition 46
[How could those times be now so wholly gone] 47
[What in God's name can I do with me] 47
The future can never have been different than it was 48
Out of backwards sidewise towards fromwards 49
On climbing to an over-all - which then to come back down from 51
Apostrophe, address unknown 52
To any author, however ancient, however great 52
Burking the issue 53
Invictus 53
Mind and body - or some such 54
Im Empfang war der Anfang 56
A profile 57
Shop talk 58
Sick mind in slightly less sick body 59
Further shop talk 59
An old man's spring song 59
Petitioning, of a sort 60
Towards total gallantry 61
Brain-storm 62
A batch of virgins ... 63
Advice to the young 64
S*l*nc* 65
Minority reports 67
[Suave power of persuasion] 67
High estate 68
To the apprentice 68
Ms. Universe 69
Steps along the way 71
Mother earth 73
A kind of pilgrimage 74
In behalf of precision 76
The rebel 77
On the other hand 77
A valentine 77
Libido, the transformations of 78
On forfeiture 78
[To praise is to love] 79
[They can put a man on the moon] 79
7/13/72 80
On giving thanks (XI/22/73) 81
Owing to the dialectic of things 82
[With the / the second fall] 84
Social justice 85
Occam's razor 86
But for these lucky accidents 86
Genre portraits 87
Local talent 89
The Amazon 92
The virgin Amazon is to become a mother 94
Getting and giving, the ins and outs of 96
Routine for a stand-up comedian 98
The purloined letter 103
A diagnostician 104
I never told you, pap 105
To a darling grandchild 106
Old-fashioned apostrophe 107
Rented rooms 107
Summer now gone, only the insects sing 108
The night after Christmas, '76 108
Lines in search of a title 109
Data for further study 110
A gallantry 111
Three phases of womanhood 112
Essence and existence 114
Alone, lonesome, a loner / remembering 115
On all our having lived 122
On faring Fo(u)rth 123
Anent our ultimate duplicity 124
Passing thoughts, of a pious infidel 126
Invocation for a convocation 127
A diarism 129
To do with mirror-images 132
A further epistolation 135
My distant uncle Charlie 136
On giving up the ghost 138
Nocturne, with noise 140
As with an-one who could "borrow" something 142
Mystic moment in reverse 144
To a nice girl who no longer is 144
Epic similes 145
More epic similes (in a non-heroic age) 150
Some not-so epic similes 151
Tributes of an oldster to his dearling Cynthevieve 155
Formal invocation 159
The divine af/inflatus 160
An invocation in principle 163
An Ovid, in exile 164
A nostos in November 164
Always face reality 165
Peace by pacification 165
[Out of the cavern of silence] 165
On and off the record 166
Advice for accountants 166
A December devotion 167
[I remember an one] 167
Epoch simile 168
Spring 168
An oldster's apostrophe 169
An epistolation 170
Now that the tide 172
A clima(c)tic situation 173
All I want 174
A critical load, beyond that door, or before the ultimate confrontation, or when thinking of deconstructionist structuralists, or a hermeneutic fantasy 175
A reminisce (1979) 177
Belated entrance 181
A solemnity 182
An idealization 183
Thoughts to an octogenarian in transit 184
Creativity - awoke 185
Heroics (query) 185
A Delphic (m)utterance 186
Lines suggested (by the spiritual, "same train") 187
In retrospective prospect 188
A ritual of thanksgiving 191
Flowerishes 195
Quinquains
Quinquains : quequessi, quaint quinquains 207
Thoughts on an incident in Grand Central Station 217
A quasi-finale, owing to the added line 218
To aitch and wordsward 220
Salutes and salutes 222
Thoughts of the Chicago convention 223
Evil to him who evil thinks 223
On the occasion of a solstitial night in December 224
Bemus Point, Chautauqua, circa 1914 224
Thoughts on music, softly piped into a place of business 224
The benefactor 224
A case 225
One (twenty-hour) day's work VII/21-22/74 225
An odd lady 226
"White house says tapes are Nixon's property" 226
Anent line from first continental Congress (1774) - on new ten-cent bicentennial stamp 227
Each day new - born to what? 227
On steering the middle course and not rocking the boat 227
On the slope of sorrow-hollow, autumnally ablaze 228
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