THE MODERN POETIC SEQUENCE: The Genius of Modern Poetry by M. L. & Sally M. Gall Rosenthal

THE MODERN POETIC SEQUENCE: The Genius of Modern Poetry

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Rosenthal and Gall (English, NYU) argue here that the long poem of parts--the poetic sequence--is ""the modern poetic form."" They see this form as a series of ""human intensities,"" of subjective ""reciprocities""; they relate it to the collage states investigated in other modernist art. But, instead of offering convincing, technical analysis of the structural motives (if any) and the prosodic pitfalls involved in the century's long-poem form, the authors offer instead study-guide-like close-ups of selected work by such poets as Eliot, Pound, Yeats, Whitman, Dickinson, Williams, Crane, Olson, and Kinnell. Some of this line-by-line examination is impressively cogent: divining obscure integrative purposes in Emily Dickinson's ""fascicles""; the extensive exploration of Williams' Paterson. But much else here will strike the knowing reader as odd or strained in its emphases: there are pages on Ramon Guthrie's Maximum Security Ward but not a word about Zukofsky's A or Oppen's Of Being Numerous; Lowell's final Day By Day is treated, unpersuasively, as a sequence; Pound's Cantos are discussed almost exclusively on the basis of the Pisan sections. So, though a few of the authors' poem-studies are strongly insightful, their central thesis remains only sketchily demonstrated. And the effort to fit all these poets into the ""sequence"" scheme results in a long book which is too idiosyncratic for basic-study purposes--yet rarely probing enough to please an audience of cognoscenti.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1983
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press