Hermann Hagedorn



A Note on Contemporary Poetry



Literatur: Hagedorn
Literatur: The North American Review


AN interesting fact in contemporary literature, not only in America, is the tendency of poetry to take over without challenge the world that the realistic novel has during the last generations unfolded. The frail imitators of the great have made the wider world that the poet has generally claimed for himself seem artificial, nebulous, or stagey; and, as a result of the hue and cry that the poet come down from the clouds, the new poets have gone to the other extreme and promise now to prison themselves in city walls. The fever of realism – that mood of the modern creative mind in literature which asserts that fact, visible, tangible, and preferably seen through a microscope, is the only guide to Truth – is in their blood. For the moment nothing seems real to them but the City, the Age, even to their most superficial manifestations – air-ship, wireless, the lights of Broadway. Everything that has gone before seems stale and lifeless, and as they emerge from the past of the great dead poets into the present they feel (to quote an English periodical) "like a child attacked by the nausea of the nursery and who is caught smashing his toys." Emphatically he feels, I am become a man, and I have put away childish things.

The fallacy of this point of view seems patent. It is merely one more evidence of the impatience of men in seasons of great commercial activity with anything that they cannot immediately reach with their five senses. The socialistically minded student, in a composition course at Harvard, who considered the placing of Shakespeare above Jack London an instance of the arbitrary rule of established authority is characteristic. So also is the taboo against the teaching of Latin and Greek and the appreciation of art in minds that are unable to see any higher need in life than the need to be a success. These frills, they say, belong to [772] the nursery of man; and we are grown and face to face with reality. This is the greatest age in the history of the world, they declare. Let the poet interpret that age. And since the city is the most characteristic expression of the age, let the poet sing of the city.

Whether this age is vastly more important than the age of Socrates and Plato, the age of Michael Angelo and Columbus, or the age of Augustus, Virgil, and the Christ is at least debatable; and men will differ in their opinion as they approach hopefully or skeptically the only legitimate claim of the age to greatness, its attempt to put into effect the proposition that the brotherhood of man can be attained by legislative programmes. But the greatness or littleness of the age is beside the point here. My contention is that a poet need not limit himself to-day, any more than in the time of Homer, to the stories and the background of his own age to speak to it truths which the man on the street will admit are vital, real. Unless he be a rare anachronism, he will express his age unconsciously, even though he sing of the Seven Buried Cities of Cibola. Every play of Sophocles spells Periclean Athens, as every play of Shakespeare fairly shouts Elizabethan England, though the people of the one moved in prehistoric Greece and Asia Minor and those of the other wrought out the drama of their lives in impossible Bermudas and Bohemias. The poet may sing of Tom, Dick, or Ulysses. Each is a symbol, and one is no less real than the others.





Erstdruck und Druckvorlage

The North American Review.
Bd. 196, 1912, Nr. 685, Dezember, S. 772-779.

Unser Auszug: S. 772-773.

Die Textwiedergabe erfolgt nach dem ersten Druck (Editionsrichtlinien).

The North American Review   online
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Literatur: Hagedorn

Bendixen, Alfred u.a. (Hrsg.): The Cambridge History of American Poetry. Cambridge 2015.

Brandmeyer, Rudolf: Poetiken der Lyrik: Von der Normpoetik zur Autorenpoetik. In: Handbuch Lyrik. Theorie, Analyse, Geschichte. Hrsg. von Dieter Lamping. 2. Aufl. Stuttgart 2016, S. 2-15.

Kalaidjian, Walter (Hrsg.): The Cambridge Companion to Modern American Poetry. Cambridge 2015.

Newcomb, John T.: How Did Poetry Survive? The Making of Modern American Verse. Urbana, Ill. u.a. 2012.

Newcomb, John T.: The Emergence of "The New Poetry". In: The Cambridge Companion to Modern American Poetry. Hrsg. von Walter Kalaidjian. Cambridge 2015, S. 11-22.

Szefel, Lisa: The Gospel of Beauty in the Progressive Era. Reforming American Verse and Values. New York 2016.



Literatur: The North American Review

Buckley, Thomas L.: The Bostonian Cult of Classicism. The Reception of Goethe and Schiller in the Literary Reviews of the North American Review, Christian Examiner, and the Dial, 1817-1865. In: The Fortunes of German Writers in America. Studies in Literary Reception. Hrsg. von Wolfgang Elfe u.a. Columbia 1992, S. 27-40.

Clark, Harry H.: Literary Criticism in the North American Review, 1815-1835. In: Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters 32 (1940), S. 299-350.

Löser, Philipp: Medialer Umbruch und die Gestaltung von Internationalität. Edinburgh Review und North American Review, 1800-1830. In: Märkte, Medien, Vermittler. Zur interkulturellen Vernetzung von Literatur und Film. Hrsg. von Manfred Engelbert u.a. Göttingen 2001, S. 89-130.

Mott, Frank L.: North American Review. In: Ders., A History of American Magazines. Bd. 2. Cambridge, Mass. 1957, S. 219-261.

Taketani, Etsuko: The North American Review, 1815-1835. The Invention of the American Past. In: American Periodicals. A Journal of History, Criticism, and Bibliography 5 (1995), S. 111-127.



Lyriktheorie » R. Brandmeyer