An Author's Assemblage: Brief Notes and Notices

The accumulation of posts to this web page serves merely as an author’s assemblage of brief notes and notices: the collection of informal bits of information, quotations, and observations gathered as one way to display a personal reflection of perceptions on poetry, publication, and related selections of material drawn from my perspectives as a poet or professor of literature and creative writing.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Edward Hirsch on the Sublime in American Poetry

“Ever since Whitman, our poets have been magnetized to the sphere of the American sublime, the engulfing space that Emerson delineates as ‘I and the Abyss,’ the intractable sea that Wallace Stevens confronts in ‘The Idea of Order at Key West,’ which contains a direct echo of Whitman’s poem (‘Oh! Blessed rage for order, pale Ramon, / The maker’s rage to order words of the sea.’). This strip of land at the boundary of the fathomless sea is comparable to the liminal space that Robert Frost repeatedly encounters at the edge of the dark wood, the majestic space where, as Emily Dickinson says memorably, ‘The Soul should stand in Awe’ (#683). The feeling of awe bears traces of a holiness galvanized and deepened by the mysterious presence of death. ‘No man saw awe,’ Dickinson also declares in a late poem (#1733). Awe is fateful and sublime, and in American art, as Barnett Newman put it in a 1948 essay, ‘The Sublime Is Now.’ It is a space for schooling the spirit. It is America.” —From “The Sublime Is Now,” an essay in Edward Hirsch’s The Demon and the Angel: Searching for the Source of Artistic Inspiration (Harcourt, 2002)

1 comment:


Click image for further information