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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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‘Deep Shocks of Recognition’ and ‘Gutted’ Romanticism: Geoffrey Hill and Roy Fisher

‘Deep Shocks of Recognition’ and ‘Gutted’ Romanticism: Geoffrey Hill and Roy Fisher

(p.165) 8 ‘Deep Shocks of Recognition’ and ‘Gutted’ Romanticism: Geoffrey Hill and Roy Fisher
The All-Sustaining Air

Michael O'Neill (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the work of two very different poets to demonstrate the variety and tenacity of Romantic legacies and renewals in contemporary British poetry. The first section explores Hill's dealings with Romantic poetry and thought in his poetry and prose, discussing, among other things, his abiding concern with the health and authenticity of language, a concern traceable back to Coleridge's Aids to Reflection and Wordsworth's Prefaces. It is argued that doubleness governs Hill's view of Romantic poetry; yet it is also argued that Hill admires what he calls the ‘Romantic-Modernist’ concern to depict the mind's ‘self-experience in the act of thinking’, as Coleridge has it. The second section contends that by contrast with Hill's complexly anguished yet positive response to Romantic poetry, Roy Fisher — who speaks of himself as ‘a Romantic, gutted and kippered by two centuries' hard knocks’ — shows an altogether warier and quieter engagement. The section focuses especially on Fisher's representations of the self, and suggests that the enriching complications these representations involve imply continuity between Fisher and the Romantics. The chapter concludes by asserting that in Fisher as in other post-Romantic poets studied in the book, Romantic poetry bequeaths a legacy of possibility.

Keywords:   Hill, Fisher, Modernist, doubleness, the self, possibility, authenticity, gutted, continuity

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