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ISSN: 0974-892X


January, 2018



Aesthetic of Poetry of Postmodernism Poets

Poonam Arora, Ph.D. Scholar and Dr. Chhote Lal, Department of English, OPJS University, Churu



Origins, especially literary origins, are often ideological shelters. Nonetheless, the 1971 publication Robert Grenier's and Barret Watten's. This magazine is often isolated as a fountainhead for the widely variegated movement known as Language Writing or Language Poetry. Notably, the inaugural issue of the magazine contained Grenier’s nowfamous pronouncement: “I HATE SPEECH.” More than a decade later, Ron Silliman, in “Language, Poetry, Realism,” the introduction to his anthology of Language Writing entitled In the American Tree, insisted that Grenier’s denouncement of speech-based poetics “announced a breach--and a new moment in American writing” [1].

All poetry is composed of all three in varying proportions, and since Pound himself uses the term “phases” in describing that phase of the poet's art which has “exact parallels with music” [2]. The first phase is what Pound calls melopoeia, “wherein the words are charged, over and above their plain meaning, with some musical property, which directs the bearing or trend of that meaning” [3].The second phase is phanopoeia, or the “casting of images upon the visual imagination”. Since this imagery relies on precise language, it is a “contrary current” to melopoeia, which is not verbal.The third phase is logopoeia, or the lexical meaning of the words, which “holds the aesthetic content which is peculiarly the domain of verbal manifestation, and cannot possibly be contained in plastic or in music”, and which is “the latest come, and perhaps the most tricky and undependable mode”.


David Callander (2016) contended here that Laȝamon's utilization of exchange connects with an example found in traditional Old English verse, being to some degree dissimilar from the rhythmical writing and significantly more so from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle ballads. This is huge confirmation for the coherence, in any event up to Laȝamon, of a scholarly style found in the established verse, something which the congruity of lovely expression likewise proposes. Such proof best fits the perspective of researchers like Bella Millett that the development from Old English to early Middle English writing was unpredictable and is just halfway spoken to by surviving material, instead of the contentions of Norman Blake which put such accentuation on rhythmical exposition to the avoidance of different conventions. Laȝamon should in some ways frame some portion of a persistent lovely custom, despite the fact that this current convention's full degree, and the changes it experienced over hundreds of years, require significantly encourage examination, and not simply from a metrical point of view. Where else in Middle English writing (if by any stretch of the imagination) do a similar discourse designs found in Laȝamon and the established verse? Are such tropes totally connected to meter, or would they say they are additionally discovered somewhere else in non-alliterative sonnets? In spite of moving toward the last part of its first thousand years, Laȝamon's ballad stays fruitful ground for future research.

Ann Marcus-Quinn (2016) used the technology to address a very specific issue which would not traditionally be addressed in “off the shelf” commercial courseware products. Tailor-made solutions, such as the one addressed in this study, put the teacher back in the centre of the design and development of learning resources enabling more effective and responsive educational solutions, which can be modified to address different levels of abilities and different learning situations. There are of course challenges and opportunities created with this type of ICT use in English particularly in relation to the nature of pupil learning, the transferability of the skills acquired and their level of engagement with the developed product. The implications of this type of use of the technology on the informal and formal educational experiences of the learners require further research.

Paul Watsky (2017) discussed about ecocide, the human tendency to abolish surroundings and habitations, expresses crosswise technologically advanced developments, nonetheless of their contrary ethnic and devout values. Instances of these activities and intentions are careworn from both English linguistic and Japanese foundations, their milieus equaled and discriminated.

Ying Cui (2017) investigated the multiplication of wonderful components in the interpretation of lovely promotions in English-to-Chinese interpretation. It has utilized a structure for the examination of graceful promotions in view of phonetic investigations concerning the expository gadgets that are frequently connected in the talk of publicizing, mental examinations of stylish needs and feelings, and the investigation of the corpus. It has examined how idyllic ads bid to the perusers' tasteful needs and endeavor to acquire enthusiastic reactions from them. It has delineated the beautiful components in graceful ads from the points of view of sound, structure, and picture, and has examined the general examples in the interpretation of English– Chinese wonderful commercials. This examination varies from different distributions in the three angles. In the first place, it characterizes beautiful notices in a solid way, clearing up some of their characterizing highlights and giving three classes of graceful components. Second, it draws on the necessities hypothesis and breaks down the part of passionate association in satisfying the perusers' tasteful needs while talking about the real elements of wonderful promotions. Third, it examines a corpus which covers a generally far reaching assortment of idyllic commercials. The conclusions concerning interpretation designs are drawn on the premise of the corpus.


1. Pound Views on Aesthetic Poetry

In “Hugh Selwyn Mauberly”, Pound gives an ironic description of modernism which reflects Pound's own early practice, which was “deeply indebted to models of verbal musicality” (Greene 890) [8].

Pound distances himself from modernism, referring to it as “the present chaos” in which “the modern poet is expected to holloa his verses down a speaking tube to the editors of cheap magazines” [2]. Poetry in the modern age has become something rhetorical and commercial, something purveyed by “amateurs” rather than artists, and will continue so until there is “a general understanding of the fact that poetry is an art and not a pastime” [2]. He also seems not to subscribe to the idea that poetry is fundamentally visual, advising the neophyte poet not to be descriptive, since “the painter can describe a landscape much better than you can”, and the poet “presents something that the painter does not present” [2]. While imagery certainly has an important place in poetry, it is not represented directly as in painting, but indirectly via the image, created by poetic language. The poet therefore should “behave as a musician, a good musician, when dealing with that phase of your art which has exact parallels in music. The same laws govern, and you are bound by no others” [2].

In his critique of modernism Pound also acknowledges the importance of a poetic tradition, arguing that “it is not for us moderns to go saying it over, or to go obscuring the memory of the dead by saying the same thing with less skill and less conviction” [2].    Thus poetry, music and imagery are inextricably connected. If poetry did not have this transcendent element it would not be art, and hence would not be poetry, but prose.

2. W. H. Auden Views on Aesthetic Poetry

In order to reintegrate the self, the erotic love of the aesthetic must be transformed into the agape, or brotherly love, of the religious, which is unselfish love which seeks to serve its neighbor without attachment or desire, and in which God, or the transcendent, is the “third party” [10] in the relation. Hence the self becomes integrated by perception of the unity which underlies the apparent incoherence and fragmentation of the phenomenal world. Art, and poetry, by its ability to express the unity of the transcendent, or thing-in-itself, by means of poetic imagination, makes one aware of this unity which, as pointed out above, is its primary, if not sole, function.

The ethical as transfigured by the religious becomes a higher ethics [10] than the demands of mere civic duty, which no doubt is indispensable to the functioning of civil society; but this becomes a higher ethics which can only be expressed by means of what W. H. Auden calls “indirect communication” [10], which is why W. H. Auden's “aesthetic authorship” [10] is pseudonymous. W. H. Auden's pseudonymous works constitute indirect communication in the same way that Jesus, the paradoxical God-Man [10], uses parables to express higher truths that cannot be directly put into words. Poetry is also a form of indirect communication in that it expresses higher truths by means of allegory, metaphor, irony, and other figures of speech in which the lexical meanings of the words are insufficient in themselves to convey the full meaning; it does this also by the sounds of the words themselves as distinct from their lexical meaning, since the pure sound of the words, or melopoeia, is an essential element of the aesthetic content of poetry, a content which has been transfigured by the religious, thereby enabling it to express higher truths than the purely phenomenal, that is to say, the noumenal, or thing-in-itself. That is, the aesthete's concern with selfish, or sensual, desire has been transfigured first into the ethical, and then the ethical transfigured into the higher ethics of the religious.

3. Eliot Views on Aesthetic Poetry

A song may have poetic lyrics, meaning that they have many elements of poetry about them, just as a novel, which is written in prose, may have poetic elements in its language. However neither of these poetry are proper. In the case of a novel, the words are less charged than poetry. As Pound puts it, Flaubert achieved in several hundred pages of prose what a poem may achieve in a few stanzas [3]. In the case of a song, the words require musical accompaniment. A poem creates its own music. This is why most poems cannot be set to music. It is unnecessary, and can actually interfere with the poem's aesthetic beauty, much in the same way that excessive meter and rhyme can interfere with the aesthetic beauty of a poem, as pointed out above in Eliot's discussion of vers libre.

4. W. H. Auden Views on Aesthetic Poetry

The world certainly appears to the casual observer, who relies on ordinary (as opposed to transcendental) imagination and empirical intuitions, or sensory perception, as well as pure and empirical concepts, to be fragmented, and the casual observer, as Emerson points out, is able to intuit transcendental unity in the form of God, the Soul and the World as totality; however it is up to the poetic imagination to express this unity. He argue that it is one of the functions of art, perhaps its primary function (besides the creation of aesthetic pleasure; and even this may derive from the unity one perceives in a true work of art), and ultimately even its sole function to create unity out of chaos, or as Emerson puts it, “Life will no more be a noise”. It does this by perceiving and expressing the ultimate unity which lays behind the apparent fragmentation, which Hinduism calls Brahman, or Spirit, the ultimate reality, as opposed to Maya, the apparent fragmentation and incoherence of the phenomenal world. Hence it is fragmentation which is the illusion, not God, the Soul, or the World as totality.

5. The Politics of Play in the Poetry of Robert Grenier and Susan Howe

Grenier’s first book of poems, Dusk Road Games, published in 1967, is written in the tradition of the earlier poetics of William Carlos Williams. In fact, the first poem of the book, “Slum Spring,” immediately recalls Williams’ “Spring and All.” The language is terse, simple, and unsophisticated, a “common” speech. The form, like its content, is suggestive but nonetheless gracefully unadorned. And, like “Spring and All,” Grenier’s “Slum Spring” chronicles a transformation in seasons, the emergence of spring, in an environment where poverty and suffering is despairingly recognizable. In Williams, it is near “a road to the contagious hospital”; in Grenier, it is, simply, a “slum.” In this particular slum, the neighbor’s dog is a mutt, a “cur,” and the tenement women shop laboriously “in the slush”. Yet, as in Williams’ poem, spring offers the possibility of (re)birth, renewal, and rejuvenation. “Slum Spring” ends with this recognition:

Their shopping bags in their pull carts—
coming home in their greatcoats—
pull perceptibly lighter

As in “Spring and All,” however, the recognition of birth and renewal must also be weighed against the overwhelming sense of uncertainty and despair. In other terms, even though the carts “pull perceptibly lighter,” it is unclear whether the slush is absent, the shopping bags are less in number, or the adopted strategy of transportation has been altered, from push to pull. Regardless, the act or action is less arduous; at the same time, the sense of social despair persists. Thematic congruities among the poems of Williams and Grenier surface time and again throughout Dusk Road Games.

The deconstructive strategy of Howe’s “The Falls Fight,” therefore, is more than mere quotation or an instance of historical collage. As with Derrida, Howe’s excisions, grafts, and incisions are critiques, expositions, and inscriptions that give rise to new effects of meaning, engender differences and deferrals, reveal blind spots, and, generally speaking, undermine the stability of (historical) truth.

In addition to Howe’s deconstruction of Euro-American colonial history and historiography, the poems of Articulation of Sound Forms in Time, without ever saying so, also seem to call into question the legitimacy of the contemporary lyric. In its interrogation of voice, lyric, and subjectivity, Howe’s text, in other terms, implicitly challenges the workshop aesthetic. Kathleen Crown [12], for instance, argues on these terms specifically: “Shattering dominant ideologies of the contemporary lyric—its privatized subjectivity, scenic-derived emotion, gendered agency, and image-based epiphanies— Howe’s serial lyrics testify not to the solitary speaker’s inward eye but to a painfully public, dissociated, and multiple sensibility”. Although offering a more general assessment, Michael Greer argues along similar lines:

By problematizing poetic language along the two fundamental axes of communication and referentiality, “language poetry” affects a shift in the relationship of the (writing) subject to poetic discourse, from a notion of the self as a speaker or voice located outside the text, to a notion of the subject as a constructed moment or effect within various intersecting discourses. The radical potential of poetry, in this argument, lies in its ability to make available new modes of subjectivity and communication by reworking the fabric of relations among writer, text, and reader.

The self, in the course of Howe’s poems, is a fractured construct, an intersection, a point of reference, a repetition, a doubling, a graft, and an effect of discourse. Like Robert Grenier, her work, especially in its construction of polyvalent subjectivity, indirectly challenges the order, coherency, and dominative control of late-capitalist culture.

6. Nature and the Politics of Interdependence in Gary Snyder’s Mountains and Rivers without End and A.R. Ammons’s Garbage

In The Postmodern Turn [13], for instance, Steven Best and Douglas Kellner insist that although postmodern social theory rarely deals directly with ecological issues, it is a “short step to an ecological perspective in which postmodern ‘incredulity’ realizes the bankruptcy of modern views of progress and understands that the modern age of cheap, nonrenewable resources is ending”. In other terms, the “shift from the modern belief in inexhaustible resources…to the postmodern realization of scarcity and finitude allows for a new ethic of conservation, a new appreciation of ecology, a critique of consumerism, and a new vision of ‘sustainable’ societies and consumption habits that are ecologically sound”. Since the early 1970s, born in large measure out of circumstance and necessity, various strands of environmental thought—informed by the ecological consequences of modern and postmodern science, theory, and culture—have emerged, sometimes in competing and combative fashion. Among the list of these emergent disciplines and movements are various theories of environmental and economic entropy, chaos theory, social ecology, ecopsychology, ecometaphysics, ecofeminism, and deep ecology. While both direct and indirect traces of these disciplines, as well as others, are evident in the work of both Gary Snyder and A.R. Ammons, and while strict categorization unfairly limits the breadth and scope of their work, the deep ecology movement nonetheless provides a relatively consistent basis on which to discuss the ecological perspective of both writers, as well as their responses to the issues outlined above.

A product, in large part, of the counterculture of the 1960s, both residual and emergent in its opposition to the values and ideologies of the dominant culture, deep ecology offers a fundamentally radical view of nature, natural systems, and, more generally, the place of humans in the biosphere, generally rooted in logic of both science and spirituality. Defined, initially, by Arne Naess, in 1973, deep ecology rejects the “human-in-environment image in favor of the relational, total-field image. Organisms are as knots in the bio-spherical net or field of intrinsic relations [14]. To be distinguished from what Naess calls “shallow ecology,” a short-range, shortsighted, and often technologically driven movement intended to fight “against pollution and resource depletion” and secure the “health and affluence of people in the developed countries”, deep ecology expresses a “value priority system only in part based on results . . . of scientific research” [15].

7. From Parody, Pastiche, and the Politics of (Funny) Grief in Sherman Alexie’s Face To Plagiarism and Privilege in the Conceptual Writing of Kenneth Goldsmith

In typical postmodern fashion, the past and the present collude and collide, and, as the series attests, tradition amounts to little more than an aesthetic code. This conception of tradition as mere aesthetic code also explains Alexie’s liberal use of other forms in this relatively early collection, including the inaugural poem of the second section, “Haibun,” which makes less than artful use of the disciplined Japanese poetic tradition of prose and haiku, and “Elegies,” which transforms a typically mournful and contemplative lyric form into a self-reflexive series of running jokes: “This is a poem for people who died in stupid ways”. Of course, the transformation, deconstruction, and reinscription of poetic tradition evident in Alexie’s earlier work, the “politics of authorized transgression,” to return to Hutcheon’s phrase, is fully realized in the poems of Face [16].

In many ways, the current postmodern culture might be characterized as a culture of inundation, deluge, excess, surplus, or overabundance. Now largely digital, the landscape is confusing if not plain bewildering; maps and guides are unquestionably needed. This condition of inundation creates collapse, disintegration, disorganization, and, importantly, contamination. As Jacques Derrida insists in another context, “What happens is always some contamination”. And, of course, contamination, as Goldsmith readily acknowledges, creates a crisis of authenticity, although he sees the issue as unimportant, as “another form of artifice.” However, in an environment of inundation and contamination, what constitutes necessary or even reliable information? How, for example, does one distinguish between what is relevant and irrelevant, important and unimportant, credible and not credible? The democratization of information has created an open environment of incredulity, one that is simultaneously democratic and oppressive. The postmodern era acknowledges the illusion of objectivity in favor of multiple and often competing narratives, all seemingly contaminated by each other and all disseminated within a dominant (hegemonic) consumer-based culture. Goldsmith’s aesthetics, in other words, are built on both contamination and complicity, and, therefore, his selections and repetitions are patently distinct from Duchamp’s interrogative questioning of the institutions of art. They may, in fact, be distinct from Warhol’s consumer-based selections and repetitions. As Christopher Schmidt relates, “Like Warhol, Goldsmith chooses ephemeral, well-circulated, often banal texts as source material; periodicals, radio reports, and his own mundane chatter are some chosen objects of détournement” [17].


According to Pound, the aesthetic content of poetry is composed of three phases, or what Pound calls the “three kinds of poetry” [3]. These modes might also be called phases, or elements, since arguably all poetry is composed of all three in varying proportions, and since Pound himself uses the term “phases” in describing that phase of the poet's art which has “exact parallels with music” [2]. The first phase is what Pound calls melopoeia, “wherein the words are charged, over and above their plain meaning, with some musical property, which directs the bearing or trend of that meaning” [3].

The second phase is phanopoeia, or the “casting of images upon the visual imagination”. Since this imagery relies on precise language, it is a “contrary current” to melopoeia, which is not verbal.

The third phase is logopoeia, or the lexical meaning of the words, which “holds the aesthetic content which is peculiarly the domain of verbal manifestation, and cannot possibly be contained in plastic or in music”, and which is “the latest come, and perhaps the most tricky and undependable mode”.

According to T. S. Eliot, in “Tradition and the Individual Talent” [9], poetry is not the expression of emotion, but “feelings”. His argument is that emotion is too subjective to be a subject of art: “poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality”.

According to Eliot, this connection with tradition is a necessary characteristic of all good poetry. In “Tradition and the Individual Talent” [9], Eliot argues that every new poet takes his place within a tradition of the poetry of the past, and the tradition itself is thereby subtly altered by the new addition. Thus the poetic tradition is timeless and has no beginning or end, and always exists in its entirety. As Eliot puts it in his introduction to Pound's Selected Poems (1928), “the poem which is absolutely original is absolutely bad; it is, in the bad sense, "subjective‟ with no relation to the world to which it appeals” [8] . Thus this allusiveness reflects high modernism's defense against “what were felt to be the degenerative forces of modernity, the "sculpture of rhyme‟ still standing firm against the new mass produced "mould in plaster‟ that the age apparently demanded (Pound, Hugh Selwyn Mauberly)” [8] , and reins in the “recklessly expansive gestures of avant-gardism” [8] .

According to W. H. Auden, there is another, rather mysterious, faculty of the mind which he calls “imagination”. Imagination is distinct from intuition in that, unlike intuition, which is objective and bound by the senses, it is a subjective and free activity of the mind. The function of the imagination is to mediate between intuitions and concepts, i.e., it is that which combines these into empirical knowledge. However, according to W. H. Auden, this faculty is "blind” [10].

Imagination is the faculty which comes into play when the appreciation of work of art can take place, and is central to W. H. Auden's aesthetic theory. However, there are two types of imagination, the empirical, or reproductive, imagination described above, and a transcendent, or “productive” imagination [8], which is similar and analogous to the empirical imagination in that it mediates between empirical imagination, which is bound by sensory perceptions, or intuitions, on the one hand, and on the other reason, or the mind's free association of ideas which are independent of anything external to them, such as perception. Examples of ideas of reason are God, the Soul and the World as a totality. This latter type of imagination, which it call as “transcendental” imagination thus, affects an “a priori intuitive synthesis” between the two opposing aspects of nature, the phenomenal world which is dependent on sense impressions, and the noumenal world of the Soul, or thing-in-itself, which is dependent only on reason. Thus transcendental imagination bridges the gap between Nature and Freedom [8].

Duchamp, according to Goldsmith, “eschewed the retinal qualities to create an object that doesn’t require a viewership as much as it does a thinker ship; no one has ever stood wide-eyed before Duchamp’s urinal admiring the quality and application of the glaze” [11] . Of course, work in the spirit of Duchamp’s Readymade is well established in the visual arts, a fact Goldsmith acknowledges when he notes that artists like “Elaine Sturtevant, Louise Lawler, Mike Bidlo, or Richard Pettibon” have “recreated the works of other artists, claiming them as their own, and they have long been absorbed into a legitimized practice”. Surprisingly, he leaves out the appropriation work of Cindy Sherman and Sherrie Levine.

W. H. Auden discusses the aesthetic in terms of the erotic, or eros, i.e., seduction; the ethical in terms of marriage, which satisfies the universal demands of civic duty; and the religious in terms of agape, or brotherly love, and the paradox of religion, particularly Christianity. W. H. Auden arguing that poetry or language which is charged to the highest degree possible, represents, or embodies, W. H. Auden's existential progression from the aesthetic to the religious, where the aesthetic is “transfigured” by the religious, and is no longer the purely aesthetic in terms of the superficial beauty of the words. The aesthetic dimension of poetry is, as it were, the entry point, or doorway, to the spiritual.

Howe identifies with Atherton. His “epicene name,” to reiterate, is an “emblem foreshadowing a poet’s abolished limitations.” Hope is both a point of opening and a moment of enclosure. Like Daniel Warner, a member of the colonial militia feminized as “Danielle Warnare” in the second poem, Hope, for Howe, serves two functions. First, as a point of opening, Hope’s rejected story—inscribed, for Howe, in his name—is a representation of that which history and history writing excludes and marginalizes; women and Native Americans are obvious instances [18]. As Fiona Green notes, “Attending particularly to the mechanics of textual transmission, Howe scrutinizes those editorial and institutional frameworks that come between her and the vestigial presences she wants to recover”. Inscription and appropriation, then, must occur, or, as Howe writes in The Birth-mark, “If history is a record of survivors, Poetry shelters other voices”.

For Grenier, specifically, his poetry has tended to privilege the non-referential aspect of language as a way of resisting capitalist ideologies. Grenier’s privileging of the non-referential has not come without criticism, even within the circle of poets writing under the rubric Language Poetry. Ron Silliman, for instance, argues in “Disappearance of the Word, Appearance of the World” that while Grenier “frontally attacks referentiality,” the extent to which non-referentiality is predicated on negation places Grenier as operand in the “referential fetish”. And for poets like Bruce Andrews and Charles Bernstein, reference is only “one of the horizons of language, whose value is to be found in the writing…before it may find at any moment” [19]. The argument is slippery but the point is clear: referentiality is only part of the project of poetry as politics, and, moreover, its tendency to be fetishized makes it susceptible as a site of contestation, a point David Marriott makes undeniably clear: “Language Writing, in its systematic attempt to empty the linguistic sign of its referential function, replaces representation with a fetishistic substitute, that of the signifier” [20].

Gary Snyder has steadfastly worked toward the fusion, in theory and practice, of the most positive cultural developments of the latter half of the twentieth century: 1) the introduction of Eastern religious thought and spiritual/psychological techniques to the Western world, 2) the reevaluation and understanding of primal cultures and the “old ways” of living on the planet, and 3) the rise of the science of ecology and an ecological understanding of humanity’s place in nature [21].

In a descriptive overview of Ammons’s long poems, it is “life itself, life in all of its changes—that is, life as process—that is his subject, and it is a falsification of whatever constitutes ‘truth’ or ‘reality’ to freeze into ideal form any segment of it” [22] . All matter, including human matter, is subject to the processes of decomposition and regeneration. All life is change, and all matter, in this sense, is garbage.


There is no objective reality behind subjective appearance is philosophical idealism, and W. H. Auden was quite specific and emphatic that his philosophy was not to be equated with idealism. All poems in the series contain three quatrains and a concluding couplet, most of the lines are comprised of ten syllables, the principal poetic foot is the iamb, and there is often an alternating rhyme scheme. And unlike the poems from Alexie’s earlier collections, the formal quality of these poems seems to blur the line between parody and fidelity to formal poetic tradition. As it turns out, however, that line is observable. The poet-narrator of Garbage, therefore, is both comically and tragically self-conscious, self-referential, self-aggrandizing, and self-effacing. He is both sincere and insincere, both reliable and unreliable, both conclusive and indefinite. Easily digested, the poems culminate in a final line (or stanza) that provides summation and closure, much like the final scene of a blockbuster film or the tail end of a (dirty) joke.



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