Theses Doctoral

The Modernist Defense of Poetry in Prose and Verse

Farrell, Nathaniel Calise

The defense of poetry is a centuries-old genre that shapes the verse of Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, Marianne Moore, and William Carlos Williams. Arguments from the defense of poetry become models for the imagery in their poems and for their own poetic voices. These arguments include defending poiesis as the ennobling essence of poetry; attacking ornament as a property of mere verse; and yoking popular poetry to the vice of over-ornamentation. By drawing together their growing frustration with the prose defense, their internalization of its priorities and prejudices, and their residual commitment to poetic ornament, this cohort of modernist poets produce a genre of poem fraught with contradiction: images of the bad poet and the ignorant masses from the defense become central to modernist poetry. Seminal texts like "In a Station of the Metro," "Poetry," The Waste Land, and Spring and All register the defense's actual political purpose: policing class hierarchies within the democratizing republic of letters.



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More About This Work

Academic Units
English and Comparative Literature
Thesis Advisors
Golston, Michael Bernhard
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
September 13, 2013