Friday, November 16, 2012


A "Poetry-Fueled War"

Dickinson and Whitman are sometimes taken as the only “interesting” poets of the war years. Is the broad range of Civil War poetry underappreciated by contemporary scholars?
Edmund Wilson was very influential in dismissing this work as “versified journalism.” ... It’s also the case that scholars were reluctant to approach this body of work because the “But is it any good?” question persists much more strongly with poetry than it does with prose texts. If we pick up the dime novels that were written in the Civil War era, the political thrillers about female spies, we don’t expect those works to have the kind of narrative or linguistic complexity of Moby-Dick, but we still find them interesting and worthy of study.

Immediately read Ruth Graham's interview with Faith Barrett on the question of Civil War poetry. Then, on a tangential note, read this poem by Daniel Day-Lewis' dad, who is not really Abraham Lincoln's dad, whatever your eyes may tell you. And maybe Allen Tate's "Ode to the Confederate Dead", which is a superb poem, even if Allen Tate was a tool.

8 Comments / Post A Comment

Lily Rowan

Because I'm more of a singer than a poetry person, I'm all excited that I have a favorite Civil War poem, but that's because it became a hymn: Longfellow's "Christmas Bells." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Heard_the_Bells_on_Christmas_Day




I was so confused about Allan Tate because I was thinking of Robert Lowell's For the Union Dead.


Priscilla Peel

The Cecil Day-Lewis poem is so good! My favorite Civil War poem will always be this gory Emily Dickinson one.


Poetry! Hurrah! (sad topics, alas!)


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Forgotten poet Donald Davidson's "Lee in the Mountains" is way out in front of anything his sometime pal Allen Tate ever cobbled together. A poem with an interesting history in anthologies because Civil Rights. (Davidson was pretty much a card-carrying white supremacist, at least in old age in the 1960s, and I think probably before.)

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