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Serious PoetryForm and Authority from Yeats to Hill$
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Peter McDonald

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199235803

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199235803.001.0001

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‘Rather than words’: The End of Authority?

‘Rather than words’: The End of Authority?

(p.1) 1 ‘Rather than words’: The End of Authority?
Serious Poetry


Oxford University Press

Form is the serious heart of a poem where such ‘authority’ as poetry bears must reside. In this sense, the poem is a serious business, however the poet chooses to run his business in broader senses. Authority is not something that may be said to come to an end; although its name might not be spoken, or might change, it is always a basic condition of any contemporary literature. But poetry's dealings with authority, in this sense, are seldom straightforward. These arguments are illustrated in this book, which examines 20th-century British and Irish poetry by focusing on the works of William Butler Yeats, T. S. Eliot, Wystan Hugh Auden, Louis MacNeice, Seamus Heaney, and Geoffrey Hill. This introductory chapter also analyses the form and execution of ‘Church Going’, a poem by Philip Larkin.

Keywords:   poetry, form, authority, English literature, Britain, Ireland, Geoffrey Hill, Philip Larkin, literary criticism

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