Monday, September 30, 2019


Lyric Poets

Edmund Wilson (1895-1972), "The Muses Out of Work," The Shores of Light: A Literary Chronicle of the Twenties and Thirties (1952; rpt. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1979), pp. 197-211 (at 202-203):
Does it really constitute a career for a man to do nothing but write lyric poetry? Can such a man expect the world to be concerned with what he has to say? In certain cases, such a career may justify itself. But more often, I believe, it fails to. Think of the poets of Johnson's Lives—almost all of them clergymen, physicians, ambassadors, statesmen or courtiers. Waller sat in Parliament and engineered a Royalist plot; Milton was Cromwell's Latin secretary and narrowly escaped the scaffold at the time of the Restoration; Prior was ambassador to France and took part in negotiating the Treaty of Utrecht. These three poets, in everything else so different from one another, have it in common that their work is distinguished by an interest in public affairs and a large experience of the world. Even in the case of those poets who, in the Rome of Virgil and Horace as well in the England and France of the seventeenth century, played no active part in the life of their time, they benefited much by their contact with the Court, where the civilization of the age had in some respects been brought to its highest point and where the problems of the day were in the air.

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?