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Well, the way I see it, a POET does not set out to “convince” anyone else but oneself. On the other hand, a POLITICIAN sets out to convince everyone else first and perhaps oneself last. A rigid adherence to some “inner form” of honesty is not an absolute requirement for a politician. The politician might lie “on behalf” of his constituents, all the while engaging in delusionary thought.
I am actually reading three great books at this time, and all relate to poetry in a different but highly important way. Let me show you what’s up.
The FIRST BOOK is a biography of G. K. Chesterton (photo above), by Alzina Stone Dale and was published in 1982 by the William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936), like George Orwell (1903-1950), is one of those literary strongmen whose influence grows as time goes on. He was never tainted by a need to “convince” but always reporting on the realities of life, as they were experienced, physically or envisioned by the writer. Chesterton was highly influential among the English literati, especially during the first quarter of the Twentieth Century and Dale’s biography brings his towering stature to life in her excellent book. If you have never read any of Chesterton’s work have a look below and re-consider reading his work.
Chesterton took the early advice of his friend, the Wizard, as we just read in part one above, and created his own proverbial land. In other words, with poems through the written word take us, as migrants, into his world, always staying within the “realities of life” in his philosophical commentaries.
The SECOND BOOK is by an astonishing Twentieth Century Educator, an influential essayist, poet, scholar, the late professor John Crowe Ransom (1888-1974) founder of the Kenyon Review. He was an educator at Vanderbilt University (1914-1917) where he also had graduated. Ransom also was a Rhodes Scholar at Christ Church at Oxford (1910-1913) where he read the “Greats”.
Ransom was an Officer in the American Forces in France between 1917-1919. His 160 poems were mostly written between 1916 and 1927, but he wrote five books on poetry and three anthologies. In 1937, he accepted a post at Kenyon College where he became the founder of the Kenyon Review, considered even today America’s foremost publication of literary criticism. The above shown book in this fabulously fresh and unmolested dust jacket was published in 1951, the same year he won the prestigious Bollinger Prize for Poetry. Some of the writers covered had been also his students and his approach to “new criticism” set the tone for poetry review during the balance of the Twentieth Century.
His own work, although influenced by the 17th Century English metaphysical poets, was at the base concerned with the “inevitable decay of all things human” similar to the writing and poetry of Chesterton, but with a younger American eye, focusing on the”modernity” of the Twentieth Century. He was one of the 16 writers who made up the“Fugitive Group”, as these writers were known to poetry lovers.
The THIRD BOOK is an interesting book with respect to history. Next year, 2014 will be the 100th Anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. The above anthology by Brian Gardner is a stunning example of the realities of life as they were experienced by the Englishmen fighting the most ferocious “wars of all wars” and the poetry written by some. Having been educated at Oxford, John Crowe Ransom might have either know some of these men or read some of these poems by them after he returned from service, as these men were of the same generation. George Orwell would surely have read some of this poetry, as it was published after World War I in England and subsequently re-discovered. Here is some of the war poetry from the Gardner book.
Given the decay in our land, now you know why some men become POETS when the worst of worst conditions HAPPEN, and with these calamities experienced, it simply does not allow these men to “convince” others. They are merely using words to express how they notice “reality“, unlike most POLITICIANS who always try to convince others that “reality” is different from what we all can see reality really is. Photographs depicting authors are from wikipedia.