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Romantic Re-volutions

By Annie Finch

What does Edward Lear have in common with Samuel Taylor Coleridge? The answer, or at least the question, may be found in the brand-new volume 3 of Jerome Rothenberg’s Poems for the Millennium, coedited with Romanticism scholar Jeffrey C. Robinson. The book approaches the nineteenth century the way Rothenberg and former coeditor Pierre Joris approached the twentieth century—with an eye to the trajectories of alternative poetics. Volume 3 is a fascinating book that’s bound to be controversial in a number of ways, from its aesthetics to its methodologies to its diversity, or lack thereof.

The collection aims to put into practice Schlegel’s contention that “all poetry should be romantic,” including a great range of writing that would not heretofore have been thought of as “poetry,” let alone as “Romantic.” From prose by Erasmus Darwin and the Marqius de Sade to Lear’s limericks, the selections are, naturally, delightfully eclectic, and graced by extensive commentary. The entire collection is infused with a quality of strangeness, offness, askewness, that is as appealing and habit-forming as it is pervasive. Poems for the Millenium 3 is not just a book about romanticism; it gives us, to some extent, romanticism in action.

I spoke with coeditor Jeffrey Robinson at length about the anthology over lunch, soon after it came out, the day after a panel hosted by the CUNY Poetics group at their Graduate Center in a former department store on Fifth Avenue. Jeffrey corroborated my sense that this anthology is proving of widespread importance to poets in a way that anthologies of the poetry of previous centuries are usually not. Something about this claiming of the nineteenth-century roots of contemporary experimental practice has been engaging exploratory poets (he named Lyn Hejinian, Michael Palmer, Julie Carr, and Elizabeth Robinson as examples) on an emotional level. Robinson attributes this to the fact that the book is like a map or a web, creating multiple connections among the texts involved so that when you do choose to look down into a single poem deeply, it creates a very different experience than an isolated reading.

Even the book’s organization is creative and idiosyncratic, from the “Preludium” through the First, Second, and Third “Galleries,” to “A Book of Origins,” “A Book of Extensions,” and a useful section of “Manifestoes and Poetics.” One might say the book’s organization itself is “romantic,” using one of the definitions provided at the front of the book, Andre Breton’s claim that romanticism is “a state of mind and temperament whose function is to create from scratch a new general conception of the world.”

As Robinson and I finished our lunch, we started talking about one of our shared interests, women poets of the Romantic period (long one of Robinson’s specialties). To my astonishment, I learned that Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther was of great importance to women poets of the time, that many of them wrote poems about Werther, and that Charlotte Smith even wrote a sonnet in young Werther’s voice. Alas, the poem is not in this book, whose heavy gender imbalance—11 women out of 128 contributors– has already drawn some criticism from scholars. Still, it is an exciting collection, worth reading and absorbing for anyone interested in the dynamic ways that poetic traditions are always changing.

I will close with a summary of Robinson and Rothenberg’s list of characteristics of Romanticism, from their introduction.

1. A challenge to closure.
2. A conscious emphasis on defamiliarization.
3. A foregrounding of emotions, feelings, and perceptions…as process and experiment.
4. The poet as visionary/seer.
5. The poet as a conduit for other voices.
6. An erasure of the boundaries between poetry and other forms of composition and speculation.
7. At its finest, a poetry that allows for the guiding principle of uncertainty.
8. Alongside the celebration of beauty (both “intellectual” and physical), a recurring exploration of the ugly and the grotesque.
9. A calling into question of traditional religious forms.
10. Alongside Romantic ideas of fancy and fantasy, an emergence of a new realism. . .an attention to the details of the everyday world.
11. A heightened sense of the transgressive set against an officially sanctioned ethos of gentility and conformity.
12. A widespread experience of exile.
13. Changes in form, including irregular forms, prose poetry, the fragment as a conscious poetic form, improvisation and performance poetry, sound poetry, dialect experiments, and verbal/visual interaction.

I recall Ange Mlinko posting a quote from a review by Randall Jarrell in the 1930s describing “contemporary poetry,” and pointing out how similar those aesthetics were to our twenty-first century poetics. I get the same feeling from the list above—it makes clear how much mainstream poetic aesthetics today are still informed by the revolutions of Romanticism. Presumably that is because we still have some of those same lessons to learn—and this anthology has a lot to reveal about the complex nature of those lessons.

Comments (52)

  • On June 16, 2009 at 3:53 pm John Oliver Simon wrote:

    Kudos, Annie, for this fine informing review of an anthology whose lineage, in our bestiary of poetic ideologies, is not entirely your own.

    How much of all our web-chasing back in time, including Brady’s tilt at the windmill of Pound on this board, has to do with making an emotional connection with those precursors who validate our own efforts — or restroactively killing off those who do not?

    Romanticism: a nice 13-point questionnaire for self-diagnosis! I score about 10…

  • On June 16, 2009 at 5:06 pm Bill Knott wrote:

    in “A Century of Sonnets” (1999),

    Charlotte Smith has THREE sonnets (see page 32-33)

    “Supposed to be Written by Werter”

    (published by Oxford in their Let’s Print Poetry in Such Tiny Font They Have to Squint to Read It Series)

  • On June 16, 2009 at 7:40 pm thomas brady wrote:

    Annie,

    Thanks a lot for sharing this volume, and it’s great that you got to speak to the editor!

    This book, which is supposed to reflect Romanticism within the framework of the late 18th and 19th century, feels very ahistorical.

    It seems like it was put together by some New Critic living off an inheritance in some little plot outside of London or Paris.

    Not only are women represented by a mere two percent (!!)of the text (two American women are represented: Gertrude Stein and Emily Dickinson) but AMERICANS make up only five percent of the book!

    The mid-19th century French poets Verlaine, Rimbaud, Baudelaire, and Mallarme have as much text as all the American writers put together. Where is the American revolution, the American Civil War, American expansion?

    America is perhaps the most important fact of the period which this book covers, but you wouldn’t know the American revolution even happened, that America even existed, by reading this 900 plus page volume. Nor do the revolutionary movements in Latin and South America get a hearing.

    Where is the French Revolution? Where is French philosophy? There’s two pages from Rousseau. The editors would rather have you read ‘Sonnet to the Asshole’ by Verlaine, and poems we’ve already read a million times by Baudelaire and Malarme: “The Tomb of Edgar Poe.” Yawn.

    Where’s industrialism, ballads (I think there’s one), naval battles and urbanism and money and revolutions and liberty and pirates, daily life, politics, and government? We get a lot of dreamy little poems and bits of philosophy that we’ve mostly seen before.

    I have no sense of the purpose of this book.

    There’s one page of Mary Shelley and ten from Dorothy Wordsworth.

    There’s annoying repetitions. The most represented Americans are (surprise) Emerson and Whitman, and they appear in different sections, as if the editors couldn’t think of any other American authors. Toward the end of the book we come to ‘Some Orientalisms’ and we find Emerson and Whitman (‘Brahma’ and ‘Passage to India’). Then, at the end of the volume, in ‘Manifestos & Poetics’ we find three Americans (guess who?): Emerson, one page from ‘The Poet’ and Whitman, one page from ‘Preface to Leaves’ and Dickinson (who has also been represented alreay) one page of a letter to Thomas Wentworth Higginson. And why does the ‘Manifestos’ section have mere one page excerpts, anyway?

    This book is atrocious. I’m very disappointed by it.

    Thomas

  • On June 17, 2009 at 12:45 am michael robbins wrote:

    This has a fairly good selection, but the editorial apparatus is beyond inane. Millennium has two n’s, btw.

  • On June 17, 2009 at 11:36 pm Joe Safdie wrote:

    Interested readers who want to know more about this volume might consult my review of it in the latest *Jacket* — http://jacketmagazine.com/37/r-rothenberg-robinson-rb-safdie.shtml

    Or, of course, you could just accept Michael’s characterization of the apparatus as “beyond inane.”

  • On June 18, 2009 at 12:10 am michael robbins wrote:

    Of all the examples I could adduce, my favorite are the following:

    The commentary on the initial selections from Rousseau consists in part of a lengthy quotation from Charles Bernstein.

    There is a selection entitled “Some Orientalisms” whose entire purpose is to demonstrate the superiority of our historical perspective to that of the Romantics.

    The twentieth-century successor to Diderot is said to be David Antin.

    Keats’s poems are said to be “startlingly postmodern.” The first Keats “poem” presented is a sentence from one of his letters arbitrarily broken into lines by the editor. It’s a very nice sentence; as a poem it resembles the mature work of Rod McKuen.

    The translation of Rilke’s “Archaic Torso” used is MacIntyre’s (“Else stood this stone a fragment and defaced…”).

    The editors claim to have recovered John Clare, one of the most widely reevaluated & acclaimed poets of the Romantic period, from “minor poet” status.

    Did you know that Romantic poets are “typically” of “an adversarial political disposition”? Take that, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Goethe!

    Most jarringly, there is throughout the text an astoundingly naive conception of poetic form that reveals that the editors believe that prosody & versification in English before Blake was a staid, static affair. (Even Blake is a bit too fond of rhyme & meter for them.)

    I could go on & on. Why bother? It’s a fabulous collection of poetry.

  • On June 18, 2009 at 12:36 am Christopher Woodman wrote:

    I suggest you put this one aside for the moment, Michael, and wait until you’ve finished your dissertation.

    Anyone able to read for themselves should turn to Joe Safdie’s review in Jacket–where this odd, whimsical book is examined in a much wider context.

  • On June 18, 2009 at 1:21 am michael robbins wrote:

    Well, I don’t get the tone, Christopher. I’m not telling anyone how to read, what to read, whether to read. I simply elucidated on my snide remark in response to Joe’s snide remark about my snide remark. I don’t see why people get so huffy when someone dislikes something they like.

  • On June 18, 2009 at 1:23 am michael robbins wrote:

    “Elucidated,” not “elucidated on.” I’d initially typed “elaborate on.”

    While I’m on the subject, I still don’t see what you’re implying about my being in a doctoral program. What exactly is it that leads you to sneer so? I mean, OK, I’m working on my PhD. So? That has what to do with whom when he’s at home?

  • On June 18, 2009 at 1:31 am Christopher Woodman wrote:

    That’s beautiful, Michael, “That has what to do with whom when he’s at home?”

    I’m not sneering, I’m just so old I have very little patience for answers that have only a bibliography to recommend them.

  • On June 18, 2009 at 9:22 am thomas brady wrote:

    Joe,

    If you sent a dozen monkeys into the British Museum with scissors and paste, the result would be a highly transgressive and original anthology, and it would be all the more interesting if it lacked an editor’s commentary pushing the old hackneyed theme of transgressiveness.

    Nothing is more inane than the notion that Harold Bloom is conservative; Bloom is Freudian, and no one is more transgressive than Freud, or Shakespeare, or Blake, or those looting American merchants from Salem, Massachussets, who, without permission of the U.S. Government, built their own navy and pirated the piratical vessels of the British Navy.

    ‘The Burden of the Past and the English Poet’ by W. Jackson Bate. Ever read this book?

    W. Jackson Bate’s book pre-dates Bloom’s theory and states it quite succinctly, while also establishing Romanticism as an 18th century Englightenment phenomenon.

    Rhetoric is never transgressive, for we always take rhetoric to be the opposite of what it intends to say, depending on who we are.

    Was the East India Co. transgressive or conservative when it shipped opium into China? Was the East India Co. transgressive or conservative? It depends on who you ask.
    Rothenberg would probably give you a blank look.

    Like Rothenberg’s book, Joe, your review didn’t seem to have a point.

    What many seem to miss is that this era was largely marked by U.S. v. Britain and the way France fit into U.S. v. Britain. French poetry became ‘decadent’ only after France stopped being a friend of the United States and became allied with Britain around the U.S. Civil War period. Decadent Romanticism was a partially an invention of the British Empire, to keep her subjects in other lands cowed and stupid and drugged.

    Slaves can learn how to write and think from Poe, or, they can read Whitman and think, “Wow, Walt Whitman sure has a lot of sympathy for slaves!” This distinction has been unfortunately lost on many generations of American Letters.
    This is why Emerson and Whitman are virtually the only Americans in Rothenberg’s book. It’s a laughably one-sided view, and gives the whole game away.

    Thomas

  • On June 18, 2009 at 4:43 pm Joe Safdie wrote:

    Lots there to unpack, Thomas, so let me try to clear away a few things.You appear to be asserting different definitions of the word “transgressive,” at first calling it an “old hackneyed theme” but then (presumably) praising Freud, Shakespeare, and Blake for, well, transgressing. It’s from the Latin transgressio, “a going across,” and in the sense that the editors use it, implies going beyond limits, breaking boundaries and, sometimes, laws. Travis Nichols has a good post up today about how that process might be playing out in Tehran about now.In the review, I point out areas where the editors succeed in such “transgressive” re-definitions of Romanticism (in my estimation of course) and where I think that project is more complicated. That’s the point.I actually revere W. Jackson Bate, and his books about Keats and Samuel Johnson helped to shape my literary education. Another part of that education has made me suspicious of generalizations, as in “we always take rhetoric to be the opposite of what it intends to say, depending on who we are,” which strikes me as nearly nonsensical. And finally, it’s exactly the definition of “this era” (the Romantic era) that the anthology calls into question, but I think most scholars would be surprised at it being characterized by “U.S. v. Britain and the way France fit into U.S. v. Britain” — that’s something I’d expect to hear from Rush Limbaugh.And Michael, I like being snide too, a little, but don’t you think you and I could talk about more important things?

  • On June 18, 2009 at 4:59 pm Joe Safdie wrote:

    (And on a quick side note — I used to use to signal paragraph breaks here, but apparently those don’t work anymore, nor is there a “Preview” mode where one can see one’s comment before it appears — is it now?)

  • On June 18, 2009 at 5:01 pm Joe Safdie wrote:

    ((And THAT makes no sense because it stripped away my bracketed “BRs” and “P”!!))

  • On June 18, 2009 at 5:57 pm Desmond Swords wrote:

    My instinctive thought on the Robinson-Rothenburg Romantic anthology, is that it’s just another two drones attempt at carving out a canon.

    The single overwhelming feature riven in one’s brain that one recalls from one’s days as an adept at the modernist altar when first setting forth as a bore and learning in the baffling shallows of a school headed by prophet Ezrastotle – was how dull, insignificant and unimportant most of the texts in those two doorstoppers by Jerry-Joris actually are.

    2000 pages with less than 1% containing anything which made an impression on me.

    Not to say that what is in there, in some parallel literary universe, isn’t historically important in the minds of people far more attuned to the subtleties and intelligence of the more madder radical poetries – just that this is my personal experience, as a person unaffiliated to any school, not teaching the guff and with no vested interest in talking up a bunch of names who only lodge in the mind when the obit notice is lodged.

    ~

    My take on most of the modernist-centric profs in print whose quotidian stage is starring in front of a bunch of kids for a living – is that what they do is a poetry of the lowest commmon denominator intellectually.

    Basically, jealous of the poets with more ability who learn their trade and go about it by getting meter fixed first, and with most of the crazees having little in the way of talent, but lots in the way of ambition – this disaffected bunch find a perfect solution to the dilemma of having to come up with the eternal jizz on the page, by acting like spoilt middle-class ten year olds rebelling against mommy and papa.

    The oldest con in the canon, pretending the dog ate your homework, that what looks suspiciously like random letters tossed on a page and looking like a dumbos less well attempt at creating the Voynich manuscript – is in fact deeply, deeply important. blur ha ho ha ha, kinda carry on.

    Shite and onions.

    They write this duff flarf-like nonsense, and present it as some radical challenge to political global Reality, as if writing random twelve line gobble dee gook poe mmms in which the metric is not to think of your aunt Doris when typing one handed the latest in a life-long work of cantos which all follow a similar pattern of not being any good – is somehow an indicator of their genius.

    Get 100 academic langpo poets all with a common interest of huddling together and taking what they do seriously, and what happens is they conspire to agree the naked transparency obvious to the rest of the world, to the Reader – is in fact the exact opposite of what it is in Reality — in their hermetically sealed bubbles whereby the limp gear they create, instead of saying – this is actually, not very good at all — they delude, choose to ignore the obvious and talk about the texts as if they’re in some linguistically quantum-shifting school of deeply important poetry. Just because, like, you know, they’re on three squares, sinecure, pension and enough prozac to get through the hell of a conference on Radical Poetics In the 21C: Wave-Time-Tonality and the Link with Iranian Politics.

    The language of the prose says it all. Poe-faced serious pronouncements about how some impenetrabley dull and unreadable gloop, which when heard read makes one think – am i thick, or is that person talking out their hole?

    ~

    R&R, who knows, maybe they will make a good few bucks, earn themselves some fantastic material rewards, but puh leeze, spare us the doing it to be a radical shtick, coz if Rothenberg’s a rad, i’m the Emperor of Enniscorthy and Colm Toibin my gimp.

  • On June 18, 2009 at 8:16 pm Annie Finch wrote:

    Thanks for the Charlotte Smith info, Bill, and the link to your fine review in Jacket, Joe. As always, all the comments are energetic, and welcome. I imagine each of us would edit an entirely different anthology of Romanticism.

  • On June 18, 2009 at 9:21 pm michael robbins wrote:

    Well, I ain’t really think either of us was snide. I got no stake in this anthology, wuz just settin down me take. Peace.

  • On June 18, 2009 at 9:21 pm Christopher Woodman wrote:

    But you are the Emperor of Enniscorthy and Colm Toibin is your gimp. Look, you’ve even chopped off his fadas!

  • On June 18, 2009 at 9:24 pm Terreson wrote:

    Good stuff, Annie Finch, and fun reading. While I do not know the anthology as well as some of your other readers seem to do, I think I am adequate to commenting on two points.

    First, the Werther phenomenon. The novel, a pure product of Goethe’s sturm und drang period, and published I think in 1774, did not just impact women, did not just impact German speaking women, it was an international best seller for both women and men. This young man falls in love with his best friend’s fiancee at a time when marriage is still determined by family and clan and society. Werther finally quits the scene. His unrequited love for Lotte becomes as painful as an ingrown toenail or an abcess. And so he leaves. As an aside the novel was drawn on biographical experience, and the woman friend upon he drew never forgave Goethe for making the story. I guess she felt compromised, maybe rightly so, given the social dictates of their time.

    It is interesting, don’t you think, that women then and since then would kind of fall in love with the Werther character? Because he didn’t just walk away. Werther left Lotte’s company and her house, and in a pure moment of reckoning he killed himself.

    (I say this as quietly as I can. But experience has taught me there are some women enchanted by the notion of a man killing himself for her.)

    Now here the Werther case gets even more interesting. The character of Werther famously wore blue. Upon first publication of the novel young men all across Europe started wearing blue. Then they started blowing their brains out. The situation got so bad that with subsequent printings of the novel Goethe felt the need to add an epigraph: “Be a man and do not follow me. Signed, Werther.” Fast forward something like sixty years and Goethe is still addressing Werther in his poem, “Trilogy of Passion.”

    Second thought. Point 10 in the Robinson and Rothenberg list is nothing new to me or, I figure, new in the thinking of other Romantically inclined poets. I am going back to the 1920’s and to the thinking of Laura Riding. She wrote an essay, a manifesto, she called “A Prophecy or a Plea.” She said this about what she called the New Romantics:

    “If they are to succeed, their composition must contain…the power of wonder that begets wonder and miracle, and prophecy. They will be egoists and romanticists all, but romantics with the courage of realism: they will put their hands upon the mysterious contours of life not to force meaning out of it…but press meaning upon it, outstare the stony countenance of it, make it flush with their own colors.”

    I guess I am convinced that the Romantic urge is alive and well and that the Classicist will never succeed in putting the urge down in poetry. (I apologize for the length of my post.)

    Terreson

  • On June 18, 2009 at 10:18 pm Christopher Woodman wrote:

    Why apologize, Tere? If you’ve written it as well as you possibly can, and presumably reflected on the matter at hand, then the length doesn’t matter. I for one am all ears when the going’s good.

    If it’s badly written that’s another matter–or off the subject.

    I found what you wrote very interesting indeed, and it certainly did add a lot to the brief observations Annie Finch made in her review about women and the popularity of Werther.

    No, I don’t think you have to worry, Tere. Do feel free.

  • On June 19, 2009 at 9:34 am Annie FInch wrote:

    Interesting, Terreson. What struck me when I read Werther was not the love story as much as Werther’s more rootless-seeming passionate angst and alienation. I had not thought of the women as being in love with him but more as identifying with the angst and the romantic attitude towards life.

  • On June 19, 2009 at 10:41 am Julie Carr wrote:

    Thomas,

    Instead of using words like “atrocious,” and late, “inane,” and admitting that you don’t know how to read the anthology, why not let us know which Americans you would have included if you’d been the editor? I for, for one, would love to know. Of course the American Revolution happened, and shows up in the poetry of almost every early nineteenth century British and European poet represented by the anthology – Blake’s “America a Prophecy,” as obvious example, if you know how to read for it. But, since this isn’t a book of history, but rather of poetry, it seems your questions are a bit beside the point. What we want to know from you, who evidently are an Americanist (?), is which poets and which poems from America would fit the book’s criteria (as Annie helpfully delineates).
    By the way, the French Revolution is, as most people agree, the motivating event for Lyrical Ballads, and the poetry of Blake and Shelley, just to be absolutely obvious, so what do you mean by “where’s the French Revolution”? It’s in the poems, of course.
    Julie

  • On June 19, 2009 at 12:42 pm thomas brady wrote:

    Julie,

    Blake’s America? That’s been done to the death. The reason the book is “atrocious” is there’s so much that’s old, and what discoveries there are don’t throw any light on the old, nor do the combinations of old produce anything new; there’s no frisson whatsoever. The book doesn’t DO anything.

    When you write the following:

    “But, since this isn’t a book of history, but rather of poetry, it seems your questions are a bit beside the point.”

    You sound like those New Critics who insist we make a choice between poetry and history.

    Why force the distinction? Especially when one is a transgressive modern who revels in blurring the lines between poetry and everything else, anyway? Why the sudden fit of fastidiousness?

    Now you want me to reveal my own bibliographical ideas in a couple of minutes? If only the editors of this book had come here and got feedback before they began their years of research!

    If the book is simply Rothenberg’s favorite poetry between certain dates, that’s fine, and transgressions over time can be presented ahistorically and even presented as timeless examples of transgression, I suppose, but my feeling is that an educated audience might want something more nuanced.

    Emerson and Whitman speak to us transgressively every time we read them; in the context of this volume they say the same thing again. Is Rothenberg anxious to gain new converts to Emerson and Whitman? To make it OK to like Sade AND Emerson? To point out that there’s all sorts of ways to be naughty? I have no idea what he’s trying to say to an educated audience, never mind one who might need educating.

    From Ben Franklin, the 18th century pragmatist, to Oscar Wilde, the 19th century wit, there is little difference, because the soul of wit is brevity–and this is a mere practical consideration.

    I find no wit in this book whatsoever. Never mind history.

    Thomas

  • On June 19, 2009 at 12:55 pm Robin wrote:

    “The soul of wit is brevity,” says Tom, and just like when his forebearer, Polonius, said it better, it’s hilarious. Hooray for self-awareness!

  • On June 19, 2009 at 1:47 pm Julie Carr wrote:

    Thomas,

    That’s funny: sudden fit of fastidiousness! I like the alliteration. I was just asking for a few names and titles, not a whole bibliography, since you seem to know a lot about 19th Century American poetry. Oh well.

  • On June 19, 2009 at 1:50 pm noah freed wrote:

    Yeah, I was thinking that, too: doesn’t he know who said that & why it’s funny & how he’s making the same error?

  • On June 19, 2009 at 2:17 pm Julie Carr wrote:

    Oh, and I forgot to say, I do not think of myself as a transgressive modern who revels in blurring the lines between poetry and everything else, just for the record. Even Greenblatt would probably admit to there being a difference between a poem and a political revolution, even between a poem about a political revolution and a political revolution, and there’s certainly a difference between a poem and, say, my hat, or my cat, or my fits of fastidiousness! But maybe I should write a poem about my fit of fastidiousness, since that’s a good start. And there’s a lot of daily life in Dorothy Wordsworth’s writing, which is why, I think, she gets 10 pages.

  • On June 19, 2009 at 3:54 pm thomas brady wrote:

    Julie,

    Here’s my part 2 answer to your question, just off the top of my head:

    I have no problem including prose or prose writers (Rothenberg does that to some extent, too)

    I’d have more stuff with a Byronic, cutting, edge like “The House of Mourning” by Keats and “Letter to B.” by Poe.

    I would include:

    Thomas Carlyle (the Ezra Pound of the 19th century)

    Margaret Fuller

    Hawthorne

    Charles Brockden Browne and George Lippard, Bryant, Irving and Cooper

    Franklin, Jefferson, Russell, Pitt, statesman, etc

    Whittier, Cranch, Alcott, Stowe, Ellery Channing, Jones Very

    George Santayana, Irving Babbitt

    William and Henry James

    Elizabeth Oakes Smith, Helen Whitman, Frances Osgood

    Dumas, Disraeli, Wilde

    William Dean Howells, Oliver Wendell Holmes

    Samuel F.B. Morse

    Freneau

    More folk songs and spirituals

    Also, I would feature the following:

    Newspapers, journals, diaries, what did non-artists, presidents, kings & queens, tyrants, Napolean, etc think of romanticism?

    Precedents in Greek, Roman poets, troubadors, Milton’s ‘Comus’ etc

    Looking Back: Such things as ‘From Poe to Valery’ by T.S. Eliot (1949)

    And finally, resistances to Romanticism: Franklin, Burke, Poe, Irving Babbitt

    Thomas

  • On June 19, 2009 at 4:16 pm Gary B. Fitzgerald wrote:

    Umm…exactly how thick will your book be, Thomas?

  • On June 19, 2009 at 4:49 pm thomas brady wrote:

    Thanks, Julie,

    I forgot Kant, Hegel, Voltaire, Godwin, Schiller, Beethoven, Southey, Ruskin…

    Thomas

  • On June 19, 2009 at 5:12 pm thomas brady wrote:

    Gary,

    I’d keep my own editorial comments pithy and few. I’d be chucking a lot, too, like Emerson’s poetry, most of Clare, Melville’s poetry (Christ, no one even read his *prose* in the 19th century), cutting a lot of that mid-19th century French poetry which we’ve all read before, and I would also downplay work which is not orignal, but gained a reputation in the ivory tower only because it pleased modern tastes later in the 20th century, without having affected the people who lived in the 19th century one bit. Would this make me leave out Dickinson? I’d probably do something wry and include the poem of hers that was published in the 19th century with Emerson named as author. I would give the reader a sense of reading as if they were in the era itself, including newspaper articles and literary debates of the time. I would include as much 18th century material as possible, to make the reader aware of how much romanticism occured before the 19th century. Oh, I would definitely have fun.

    Thomas

  • On June 19, 2009 at 6:36 pm thomas brady wrote:

    Shakespeare said it–he was having a laught at his character, but he was also…

    Oh, never mind.

    Thanks for joining the discussion, Robin!

    Thomas

  • On June 19, 2009 at 6:43 pm thomas brady wrote:

    Joe,

    Thanks for responding.

    If “U.S. v. Britain and how France fits in” as a late 18th/19th cen. trope invokes Rush Limbaugh (??) for you, then…yikes! Perhaps you need to read a little more widely on the Romantic era and listen a little less to talk radio!

    Thomas

  • On June 20, 2009 at 1:38 pm Joe Safdie wrote:

    I was responding to the U.S.-centric nature of your remarks, Thomas, as if, finally, national boundaries were more important than the phenomenon under consideration, which was international. I don’t listen to talk radio. And anyway, besides Emerson and Whitman, there were large selections from Thoreau, Melville, Poe, Longfellow, Menken, Stein, and Dickinson, plus all the later poets (Bernstein, Antin, Duncan, Ginsberg, Palmer, etc.) mentioned in the commentaries.

    Other things you mentioned — about Byron and about history, for example — were remarkably similar to parts of the review I wrote, so I’m still not sure what your first post meant to say. I’m actually quite interested in the differences between the Enlightenment and Romanticism, and think it makes just as much sense to see the American and French Revolutions as products of the Enlightenment: my latest sonnet series “Against Romanticism” touches on a few of these issues. Anyway, I’m not interested in blurring, but as Blake wrote, making “clear demarcations.”

    Thanks for your interest.

  • On June 20, 2009 at 2:52 pm thomas brady wrote:

    Joe,

    I appreciate your comments.

    My “U.S.-centric” take was simply a response to the five per cent U.S content of Rothenberg’s anthology (with repetitions of Emerson/Whitman, a large selection of Melville’s poetry–read ONLY because Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren told us we ought to read his poetry 60 years ago in “Understanding Poetry,” the dreary, pedantic textbook of Fugitive, New Critical Pound-ism).

    George III must figure into a transgressive history of Romanticism. (Shelley’s ‘England in 1819′ is just one example) I agree with what you say about a country’s borders–the American revolution was an international revolution, involving France, Poland, etc etc and Britain was certainly not confined to England’s borders! Keats’ brother and family moved to America–an inspiration to the great poet; Southey and Coleridge were planning to start a commune together in America. The U.S. was the hope of revolution and liberty for the whole world during this time.

    Thomas

  • On June 20, 2009 at 2:57 pm Terreson wrote:

    Annie Finch says: “Interesting, Terreson. What struck me when I read Werther was not the love story as much as Werther’s more rootless-seeming passionate angst and alienation. I had not thought of the women as being in love with him but more as identifying with the angst and the romantic attitude towards life.”

    I suspect you are right, Annie Finch, and come closer to the point. Something else comes to mind, however, that may not be too far off your observation. I know of two men writers who, perhaps more than most, are, shall we say, women friendly. The first is Stendhal who wrote one of the earliest condemnations of the European educational system of his day for its exclusion of women. He was also an early student of history to point out that the Troubador times of 12th C. Provance was a time in which women enjoyed more equality The second would be Goethe. For example, I always get a chuckle out of the notion that, in the end, God saves the Faustian hero from Mephistopheles. The whole idea amounts to a misreading of the tragedy. Goethe could not have been clearer on the point of salvation. Faust, Part II ends with a poem called the “Chorus Mysticus:”

    (prose translation) “All transient things are but a parable; the inaccessible here becomes actuality; here the ineffable is achieved; the Eternal Feminine draws us forward.”

    So far as I know Goethe coined that phrase, the Eternal Feminine. Again, in my view. It could not be clearer wherein Goethe finds salvation. (What a contrast to the Don Juan type lover for whom love, or seduction, is an act of revenge.) Anyway, my only point is to wonder to what extent women readers instinctively know Goethe is a guy friendly to their gender.

    I should love to see a feminist thinker, preferrably a woman, pursue the thesis. Especially since, if I am right, here is another reason Goethe remains a model for me.

    Just riffing on your comment.

    Terreson

  • On June 20, 2009 at 3:13 pm Terreson wrote:

    Annie Finch, here is a footnote to my last comment. I just remembered a Goethe novel in which the Werther type is a young woman equally as developed. (Come to think of it all of Goethe’s women characters are fully developed.) The novel is his “Elective Affinities.” The character is his Ottilie, a young, troubled, orphaned woman whose fate is similar to Werther’s. Actually, I now remember a second such character named Mignon and from his novel “Wilhelm Meister.” She too, just like Werther is a kind of stranger in a strange land, an Italian in exile in northern Europe. Both characters speak to your point concerning alienation and the Romantic urge.

    Terreson

  • On June 20, 2009 at 3:17 pm Terreson wrote:

    That should be Provence.

    T.

  • On June 20, 2009 at 3:20 pm Bill Knott wrote:

    so i wish someone would p-o-d an anthol of sonnets by Romantic-Era women, from Smith and Helen Maria Williams through EB Browning and (best of all) Rossetti, (add the ’90s, Olive Custance, Michael Field et al, for extra spice)

    in thankyou a readable fontsize—

    fuck Oxford and all these other horrible “publishers” who either don’t do the books, or if they do do them, print them in minuscule squintscope——

    you’re correct, Finch, when you say:

    “I imagine each of us would edit an entirely different anthology of Romanticism.”

    Yes: right: and what’s stopping each of us from doing just that?——

    Nothing!

    It costs NOTHING to edit and create a p-o-d book (on Lulu.com or other venues),

    no money at all

    to collate and edit your own anthol(s) of 19th C. verse——

    and to publish your edition for public purchase/download/distribution——

    I don’t know if you’ve seen perfectbound paperbacks printed by Lulu.com——

    the quality of their manufacture is as good (and better in some cases)

    as most “real” publishers….

    >>>
    Stop complaining about Rothenberg’s RoPo

    and do your own anthol of it——

    your anthol would cost nothing in financial investment on your part——

    and in terms of effort, you could probably copy most of it from the web, and scan the rest into your printfile——

    stop whining and start collating.

  • On June 20, 2009 at 4:23 pm Bill Knott wrote:

    picking up from my previous post,

    i have a question please: is there

    a website which lists the authors/books which have gone out-of-copyright

    and into free domain?

    I’ve been collating a p-o-d edition of the complete sonnets of Thomas Hardy,

    which i want to put out in a nonprofit edition for public purchase and or free download,

    but i’m confused as to which Hardy is still under copyright——

    I could publish a private edition easily enough, and have perfectbound copies printed for myself and my friends,

    but if it’s possible I’d like to do the Hardy sonnets as a publically-available book——

    (needless to say, Hardy’s greedybastard copyright publishers should have issued such a volume decades ago!)

    … anyways i’m stumped about the copyright mishegas….


    please! anybody! help! is there a site

    that LISTS authors/titles/etc

    which have now gone (or are about to go)

    into the public domain?


    ps. my private edition of “Philip Larkin: the Complete Sonnets”

    is delightful to read——perusing

    chronologically from page to page his 29 sonnets,

    is to marvel at how brilliantly he developed from that first one

    (the first poem of his early work included in the Faber Complete is a sonnet)

    up to his masterpieces in the form——

    the 29 sonnets make a nice 36 page perfectbound paperback . . . which cost me about 6 dollars.

    I think I’m going to have a hardcover copy printed for myself,

    and give this paperback to a friend——

  • On June 20, 2009 at 4:52 pm Annie Finch wrote:

    Terreson, Elective Affinities was an important book for my group of friends in college. I think you may be right about Goethe. I have always understood Romanticism as on some level an effort to reclaim the eternal feminine power for all of us. In a thinker as subtle and profound and loving of natural reality as Goethe, this movement is grounded and powerful and even urgent, not at all condescending.

    Knott, here’s a site with a lot of information on public domain books. http://www.ezau.com/latest/articles/public-domain.shtml There’s also something called Creative Commons. I agree that Lulu books look great (I just wish they didn’t package them in so many unnecessary and enviro-harmful packing materials). Sign me up for a copy of your edition of Hardy’s sonnets (Hardy is really in need of selected editions of all kinds, for that matter) and the Larkin too (including, I hope, his backwards sonnet.)

    I’m glad Julie got Thomas to share his ideas about what should be in the anthology. There is a lot of knowledge on Harriet.

  • On June 20, 2009 at 6:11 pm Bill Knott wrote:

    Finch, thanks for those refs,

    but I couldn’t find what I wanted to know,

    which is:

    is the 1927 edition of Hardy’s Collected Poems (the American edition published by MacMillian)

    in public domain,

    or is it still in copyright?

    A simple yes or no question, but I can’t find the answer anywhere online,

    so I would appreciate help from anyone who can point me toward

    a resolution——

    sign me frustrated

  • On June 20, 2009 at 8:17 pm Don Share wrote:

    Bill, I believe that only poems by Hardy that were published before January 1, 1923, are in the PD in the US.

  • On June 21, 2009 at 10:27 am thomas brady wrote:

    Desmond,

    Love yr ‘shite and onions’ post.

    “Basically, jealous of the poets with more ability who learn their trade and go about it by getting meter fixed first, and with most of the crazees having little in the way of talent, but lots in the way of ambition – this disaffected bunch find a perfect solution to the dilemma of having to come up with the eternal jizz on the page, by acting like spoilt middle-class ten year olds rebelling against mommy and papa.” -D. Swords

    Couldn’t have described Modernism any better myself! ‘Ezrastotle’ That’s great, is that yours?

    To the rest of you,

    I appreciate the idea of ‘what’s YOUR anthology’ and why don’t we all come up with our own, but this leaves out the spirit of criticism, so absent in poetry today; it’s 99% appreciation, 1% criticism.

    The key thing is to say why Rothenberg’s anthology fails, for only here do we begin to build something. If Rothenberg had done his job, I wouldn’t have to be doing all this work; I could relax and enjoy myself…curse you, Rothenberg! When we see failure, we have to point it out so it doesn’t happen again and waste time for those coming after. There’s no time to waste! Soon we’ll be old and tired, so let’s get busy, so we can rest easy.

    The scholar of literature making any sort of anthology really has but two choices: the popular one, in which one presents a kind of view-from-the-street of what was really happening in society at large, or, the metaphysical one, in which the profoundest and most harmonious ideas and art are presented. Personal prejudices of taste and ideology need not apply.

    With these two principles in mind, one CANNOT, in an anthology of the Romantic era, transgressive or not, LEAVE OUT:

    Kant, Hegel, Voltaire, Sir Walter Scott, John Stuart Mill, Jeremy Bentham, Samuel Johnson, Augustus William Schlegel, Schelling, George Ticknor, Defoe, Hazlitt, Lamb, Thomas Moore, Thomas Hood, Henry Chorley, William Godwin, Thomas Carlyle, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Piero Maroncelli, Disraeli, Bronson Alcott, Gautier, Clough, Landor, George Crabbe, Horace Walpole, Thompson, Gray, Cranch, Lisle, William Ellery Channing, Chenier, de Musset, Ruskin, Dumas, Vyazemsky, Krasicki, Stefan George, Kipling, Hardy, William Morris, Schiller, Margaret Fuller, Marx, Engels, Beethoven, Hawthorne, Charles Brockden Browne, George Lippard, Douglas, Bryant, Irving, Cooper, Willis, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, Russell, Pitt, Whittier, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Jones Very, George Santayana, Irving Babbitt, William and Henry James, Elizabeth Oakes Smith, Helen Whitman, Frances Osgood, William Dean Howells, Oliver Wendell Holmes,Samuel F.B. Morse, Freneau, Horace Greeley, Lincoln, Burke, Bayard Taylor, Washington Allston, Simms, Timrod, Tuckerman, Lanier, Bierce, James Lowell, and Dunbar,

    devote 2 pages to Rousseau, 3 pages to Poe, 1 page to Mary Shelley, 1 page to Thourea, and 1 page to Freud,

    WHILE DEVOTING:

    5 pages to Christopher Smart, 10 pages to Holderlin, 10 pages to D. Wordsworth, 10 pages to John Clare, 5 pages to Thomas Beddoes, 10 pages to Swinburne, 20 pages to Rimbaud, 15 pages to Leopardi, 15 pages to Solomos, 35 pages to Pushkin, 10 pages to Edward Lear, 20 pages to the Rosettis, 20 pages to Mallarme, 10 pages to Dickinson, 15 pages to Whitman, 10 pages to Baudelaire, 10 pages to Marti, 10 pages to Verlaine, 10 pages to Nietzsche, 5 pages to Laforgue, 10 pages to Dario, 10 pages to Gertrude Stein, 10 pages to Alfred Jarry, and 10 pages to Apollinaire.

    This is absolutely ridiculous. I hope this text will not be presented to students (shudder). Rothenberg is simply wearing his Pound-prejudice on his sleeve; his anti-Romantic, Modernist, New Critical, ahistorical feelings are self-evident, and finally appalling. The infestation of this Modernist worm is all-too-common; Rothenberg’s prejudices, which are shared by so many in academia, are eating through the fabric of our literature, and I say we kill the Poundhead with a good spray of True Romanticism before the worm does any more damage.

    Thomas

  • On June 21, 2009 at 11:21 am Bill Knott wrote:

    Don says:
    I believe that only poems by Hardy that were published before January 1, 1923, are in the PD in the US.

    Don, thanks for your input, but why do you believe that? Is there a source for that date?

    >There’s a publishing co in England, “Wordsworth Editions”, which does a lot of classics in inexpensive editions, but only if they’re out of copyright——

    They have a Collected Poems (including his last book “Winter Words”) of Hardy in 1994——

    it’s available on Amazon—

    *
    >Also the mid-20s (25? 26?) Collected (without “Winter Words”) can be bought on Amazon, with this detail: * Hardcover: 708 pages * Publisher: Pomona Press (pubdate: November 4, 2008)—

    *
    >Then there’s “Thomas Hardy: the Complete Poems,” at 1040 pages,
    published by Palgrave Macmillan (February 9, 2002), copyrighted 1976 by Macmillan London Ltd [and “Winter” copyright the Hardy Estate] . . .

    *
    >My hardcover of the American edition of the pre-“Winter” Collected says copyright 1925 the Macmillan Company.

    *
    I’m still confused——

    which of Hardy’s poems are PD,

    and which aren’t?

    any help appreciated please….

  • On June 21, 2009 at 11:49 am Bill Knott wrote:

    i’m sorry to clutter up this forum with these dull inquiries, but i don’t have access to a decent library… the only Hardy bio I have on my shelf, Seymour-Smith’s, is no help . . .

    I’m trying to edit and publish what i think would be a valuble book, but my access resources are limited . . .

    any help on these copyright matters would be greatly appreciated and attributed…

    here’s a biblio from a Yale site:

    1898 Wessex Poems (poems)

    1902 Poems of the Past and the Present (poems)

    1909 Time’s Laughingstocks
    (poems)

    1914 Satires of Circumstance
    (poems)

    1917 Moments of Vision
    (poems)

    1922 Late Lyrics and Earlier
    (poems)

    1925 Human Shows
    (poems)

    1928 Winter Words
    (poems)

    . . . Seymour-Smith mentions a 1919 Collected and then a 1923 Collected
    (which presumably added the ’22 book),

    I assume the ’23 Collected he mentions is the American ’25 . . .


    any info or direction would be welcome——

    I’d love to do this Complete Sonnets if I can clear up the confusions re copyright etcet….

  • On June 21, 2009 at 12:43 pm Colin Ward wrote:

    Bill,

    Is there a source for that date?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_copyright_law
    “All copyrightable works published in the United States before 1923 are in the public domain;”

    You can Google “public domain” or “U.S. copyright law” for the original legalese if you wish.

    HTH,

    Colin

  • On June 21, 2009 at 2:50 pm Bill Knott wrote:

    Mr Ward, thanks for the link——

    if i’m understanding the charts there right,
    all books published after Jan 1 1923

    are not in public domain until 95 years after their pub date,

    which means my project is nixed

    ..,

  • On June 21, 2009 at 3:26 pm Colin Ward wrote:

    Bill,

    Here is what one needs to know about public domain laws in the United States:

    1. Works published before 1923 are in the public domain.

    2. Works published between 1964 and 1977 (inclusive) enter the public domain 95 years after first publication.

    3. Works published between 1923 and 1963 (inclusive) have entered into the public domain unless they filed for an extension, in which case it would enter the public domain 95 years after first publication.

    4. Works published during or after 1978 enter the public domain 70 years after the [last surviving] author dies.

    For reasons too boring to iterate, the extensions mentioned in #3 are quite rare, especially beyond a handful of best-selling poets.

    British copyright law on literary works can differ between countries but is generally set at:

    1. 50 years from the date of publication for published works;

    2. 125 years from creation or 31 December 2039 for unpublished works; and,

    3. 25 years for “typographical arrangements” (roughly, anthologies), as in the United States.

    my project is nixed

    Not necessarily. If you’re quoting parts of the poems “Fair use” applies. If you’re including the whole poem your project is made a little more tedious; you have to get the permission of the copyright holders, who usually leave the matter of requests to their publishers. The good news is that publishers are almost always more than happy to give consent as long as you cite the source. Who turns down free advertising?

    HTH,

    Colin

  • On June 21, 2009 at 3:41 pm Bill Knott wrote:

    Mr Colin Ward, thanks so much for your kind efforts in elucidating and summarizing the situation…

    actually Hardy only published 3 more sonnets after the 1922 book,

    so I could do something like:

    SONNETS 1866-1922
    Thomas Hardy

    from:
    Wessex Poems and Other Verses (1898)
    Poems of the Past and the Present (1901)
    Time’s Laughing Stocks (1909)
    Moments of Vision (1917)
    Late Lyrics and Earlier (1922)

    Captain Hook Books [my press]

    *
    These are printed in the order they appeared in the collections published from 1898 to 1922.
    Any dates or notations below the sonnets are by Hardy himself.

    *
    Human shows, far phantasies (1925) has only one sonnet, “Discouragement” (Complete Poems #811), with a note below it that says: “From old MS.”
    Winter Words (1928) adds one more:
    “We Are Getting to the End” (CP #918, the penultimate poem—).
    One more appears in the “Uncollected” section of CP, #924: “Thoughts from Sophocles (Oedipus Colonus 1200-1250)” . . .

    *
    So this PDF includes every Hardy sonnet but the three mentioned above.

    can’t put me in jail for i hope

  • On June 21, 2009 at 3:51 pm Bill Knott wrote:

    but, Mr Colin, one more question please:

    in the case of those sonnets which Hardy revised for the ’23 Collected,

    I assume I must use the unrevised earlier versions,

    but do you think in each instance I can footnote his emendations

    under the “fair use” clause?

    thanks for your help…

  • On June 21, 2009 at 4:28 pm Colin Ward wrote:

    Bill,

    do you think in each instance I can footnote his emendations

    Yes.

    -o-


Posted in Uncategorized on Tuesday, June 16th, 2009 by Annie Finch.