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The All-Sustaining AirRomantic Legacies and Renewals in British, American, and Irish Poetry since 1900$
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Michael O'Neill

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199299287

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199299287.001.0001

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‘Dialectic Ways’: T. S. Eliot and Counter‐Romanticism

‘Dialectic Ways’: T. S. Eliot and Counter‐Romanticism

(p.60) 3 ‘Dialectic Ways’: T. S. Eliot and Counter‐Romanticism
The All-Sustaining Air

Michael O'Neill (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that T. S. Eliot's poetry is illuminated by studying him in terms of a ‘counter-Romanticism’, which he discerns in Baudelaire and enacts in a variety of ways in his poems; it also attends to the Romantic ground of his beginnings as a poet. The intention is not neatly to re-package the poet, but to find appropriate ways of describing, evoking, and valuing the poetry. It helps, for example, in thinking about the achievement of ‘What the Thunder said’ to set it in relation to the apocalyptic ambitions of major Romantic poems. The first section of the chapter looks at early poems collected in Inventions of the March Hare, arguing that their questioning mode and idiom have much in common with, and can in places be read as elegiac about, the Romantic. The second section argues that The Waste Land can be read as a ‘counter-Romantic’ poem. The third section explores how Eliot continues to work at rewarding cross purposes so far as Romantic poetry is concerned; it examines, among other things, the links between Eliot's ‘moments’ and Wordsworth's ‘spots of time’, and between his and the Romantics' interest in the present-tense thisness of writing.

Keywords:   Baudelaire, spots of time, elegiac, thisness

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