'MIGHTY POETS IN THEIR MISERY DEAD': A POLEMIC ON THE CONTEMPORARY POETIC SCENE I ED ITOR'S NOTE: The polemic that follows by is just that--a polemic. It will likely spark among our readers, as it did among our staff, great controversy, anger or applause, and much discussion. The Missouri Review offers this essay in an attempt to bring into print one side of a continuing dialogue concerning modem poetry, and invites its readers to submit essays in response to the opinion presented here. NE OF THE peculiarities of our present literary age is that future times will find it remarkably difficult to say of us that "history proved us wrong." The reason for this is that we take so few real stands on the literary quality of contemporary works. We tolerate almost any point of view, mindful of those many episodes in past literary history when strong stands were taken and duly reversed by posterity. If there is one crime greater than being wrong, it is surely that of being incapable of any opinion. Here, then, is an opinion: that no truly great poetry has been written in English since the Second World War.* There has been much
The Missouri Review – University of Missouri
Published: Aug 27, 1980
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