December 9th, 2008

The State Of English Poetry

This arises out of a discussion about English poetry I've been having with veronica_milvus .

It's my belief that we're living in an age of minor poetry. These occur every so often.  Usually because a major poet has been active in the previous generation and said everything that needs to be said.
Great poets are incredibly rare.  They're the ones that change the language and alter the sensibility of those who speak and write it.  English literature has had 9 of them. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Pope, Wordsworth, Keats, Browning, Yeats and Eliot. (Please argue with me over that choice of names). 

The first half of the 20th century was an age of great poetry. Not only did it possess the two great poets- Yeats and Eliot- but also a host of lesser poets- some of them very nearly great. It's not surprising then that the succeeding age- our age- should be so barren. We're still recovering from the impact.