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Visions of Presence in Modern American…
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Visions of Presence in Modern American Poetry

by Jr. Nathan A. Scott

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0801845378, Hardcover)

There is nothing at all, according to deconstructionist doctrine, outside of language. Nowhere, it holds, is it possible to locate any kind of "presence" external to language on which spoken and written utterances might be grounded. Nevertheless, Homer deeply contemplated the ocean, and Wordsworth the farmland, and Gerard Manly Hopkins "the dearest freshness deep down things", and their poetry suggests an undeniable experience of intimacy with things outside of language - things "as they are". In "Visions of Presence in Modern American Poetry", eminent scholar Nathan Scott argues that this testimony to "presence" offered by poetry is the strongest possible refutation of post-structuralist epistemology. Exhibiting the kind of wide-ranging analysis his readers have come to expect, Scott explores the ways in which the poetic act of contemplation makes palpable the sense of "a something more". He does this by turning to "the nine figures with whom over the years I have found myself most deeply involved": Wallace Stevens, W. H. Auden, Theodore Roethke, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Penn Warren, Richard Wilbur, A.R. Ammons, James Wright, and Howard Nemerov. From Stevens' belief in the transcendence of the human imagination to Auden's flat rejection of Stevens' view of poetry as a guide to life; from Roethke'sjoyful praise of the "numinous" reality to Bishop's "poetry without myth"; from Wilbur's "splendor of mere being" to Ammons'reflections on the sublime and the mundane; from Wright's simple lyricism to Nemerov's expression of "a moment's inviolable presence", Scott finds one enduring principle - that the chief source of the sublime is to be found in the rich density of the everyday. The resulting "poetry of presence", he contends, represents the greatest legacy of modern American poetry. Nathan A. Scott Jr's other books include "Samuel Beckett", "The Broken Center", "Negative Capability", "The Wild Prayer of Longing", "The Poetry of Civic Virtue", and "The Poetics of Belief".

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:10 -0400)

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