By Neil Roberts

Compiled and edited via Neil Roberts (Professor of English Literature at Sheffield University), A significant other To Twentieth-Century Poetry is a magnificent anthology of forty-eight scholarly essays drawn from a wide selection of authors and academicians learning the advance of poetry in twenty English-speaking international locations over the past century. From context of the poets and their paintings; to the repercussions of the post-colonial age; to the expanding voice of woman poets; in addition to an total tendency in the direction of self-consciousness and self-reflection; A better half To Twentieth-Century Poetry deals knowledgeable and informative insights gleaned from as common and numerous a bunch of members because the authors of the memorable poems themselves.

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However, the modern poets’ ‘language’ and ‘meaning’ (Pound’s as much as Eliot’s own) was deployed in a rebarbative relation to modern civilization. Anglo-American modernism came in fact to regard modernity with, at best, suspicion – and at worst with contempt for the cultural decline it had instigated. Its experimentalism was therefore a ‘revolutionary’ means to a literally ‘reactionary’ end; a paradoxical project in which the openness to new forms and the openness of a reconfigured tradition were governed by a reaction to social and economic changes it deplored.

In this genre, too, the twentiethcentury transformation of Yeats’s style owed much to transatlantic influences. James Joyce had a less personal, but no less momentous, relationship with Pound than did Yeats. Joyce left Ireland for Trieste several years before Pound arrived in London, and the two men did not meet until 1920. However, Pound took an active 14 Hugh Witemeyer interest in Joyce’s career from the time he first learned of Joyce’s difficulties in finding a publisher for Dubliners. He included a poem by Joyce in the anthology Des Imagistes (1914), and he arranged for A Portrait of the Artist as Young Man to be serialized by the Egoist and published in book form under the Egoist imprint in 1916.

Pound always had a syllabus to hand, listing Homer, Catullus, Dante, Cavalcanti and Arnaut Daniel, Villon, Flaubert, Corbière and Théophile Gautier, Fenollosa and the Chinese poets Lui Ch’e and Li Po as a bare minimum. And to these ‘how to’ letters and handbooks for apprentice poets he was to add primers on economic democracy and Confucian ethics as his sense of ‘civilization’ broadened and the case for the artist’s importance to the public realm appeared more desperate. Here too, however, Pound’s commitment to ‘The Didactic’ which Poe had opposed, found a further, surprising, echo – in the cultural mission of the Victorian sages: Arnold, Ruskin and Morris.

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