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“Fallen from the Symboled World”Precedents for the New Formalism$
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Wyatt Prunty

Print publication date: 1990

Print ISBN-13: 9780195057867

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195057867.001.0001

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Emaciated Poetry and the Imaginative Diet

Emaciated Poetry and the Imaginative Diet

(p.57) 2 Emaciated Poetry and the Imaginative Diet
“Fallen from the Symboled World”

Wyatt Prunty

Oxford University Press

Symbol, allegory, irony, paradox, and ambiguity were handled by the New Critics in a complex way that made a matrix of the text, with the tradition standing behind as the ultimate context. One of the first problems for poets schooled by the New Critics was not to sound like the property of a thorough New Critical reading. To many of those writing during the fifties and early sixties, symbol, allegory, irony, paradox, and ambiguity seemed to exist as much by their presence in the readings made by followers of the New Criticism as they did for their appearance in contemporary poems. The use of these devices seemed to repeat old patterns, rather than to create new and independent work. In this light, a “traditional” poet was someone standing belatedly inadequate before the present. This chapter focuses on one type of poetry that has been created as a substitute for the aesthetics presented to us through the New Critical reading of modernism and the poetic tradition —the emaciated poem. The trades in modes of thought made by those who adopted this kind of poetry give us an important outline to our contemporary literary economy, in which serious gains and losses have resulted from aesthetic shifts. There are numerous practitioners of this poetry. Two of the most interesting and useful examples are Robert Creeley and A. R. Ammons.

Keywords:   New Critics, emaciated poem, Robert Creeley, A. R. Ammons

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