POETRY AND THE COMMON LIFE by M.L. Rosenthal

POETRY AND THE COMMON LIFE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In analysis and explication of poems, Rosenthal -- critic and poet himself -- rises far above dogmatism to a rare balance of keen penetration and ingenuous receptiveness. The verse examined here -- examples of English and American poetry, from Thomas Wyatt to Paul Goodman -- is no exception. The thesis of the book, however, doesn't live up to the possibilities of the title: in fact, it is trivial. Rosenthal wishes to demonstrate that poetry ""comes from the depth of normal life,"" that it is ""in touch with the intrinsic music of our everyday world."" He argues that its sources -- memory, quotidian time and space, association and feeling, politics and private emotions (love, death) -- are a part of the life of Everyman. Poetry reflects, expresses, confronts, our past, our material existence, our subjectivity, our social organization, and our personal experience. The theme is old and tired -- art and the human condition, literature and life -- and Rosenthal's ambiguity in such terms as ""ordinary humanity"" confuses more than it enlightens. His critiques of individual poems are valuable; his pronouncements on poetry as a whole are insignificant.

Pub Date: Oct. 24th, 1974
ISBN: 0892551186
Publisher: Oxford