To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
.......................................again
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Reconfiguring Romanticism (17): first comments on Poems for the Millennium, volume 3

It would be impossible to overstate the wonders of this masterpiece of radical humanism. Expansive erudition, fundamental sensitivity, passionate intelligence, concern, adventurousness, and love inform this volume's structure and its substance. Rothenberg and Robinson have dedicated this project to an intensification and expansion of the vital and vivacious contexts of the ongoing project of human thought. They present us not with the fixity of a canon but with the unfixity of our world. The brooding of Romanticism will continue to burst around us. This wide-ranging, decentering, global panoply is a work of genius - the editors' and ours. -- Lyn Hejinian, poet, author of The Language of Inquiry

The Romantic vision is, above all, one of extension, extension of the imaginative faculty, extension of the essential poetic conversation beyond national and cultural boundaries, and, finally, extension and renewal of poetry’s signifying capacity in both the immediate, human realm and that of the spirit. This provocative third volume of Poems for the Millennium is itself an instance of that Romantic vision, definitively reframing and expanding our understanding of the movement. I believe its influence will resonate for generations to come. -- Michael Palmer, poet, author of Company of Moths and Active Boundaries

Modernism rejected Romanticism in the way that one political party rejects another—not because it is so different but because it wishes to win the same audience. This book demonstrates that the crucial thing that happened in Modernism was that a door opened onto still another aspect of the immense cultural experiment that Romanticism was—or as Rothenberg and Robinson might insist, that Romanticisms were (are). To know the work so carefully, lovingly and brilliantly assembled in this book is to know ourselves in a new and newly conscious way. As Robert Creeley remarked in Echoes, “Whatsoever [is] Rome [is] home.” Thanks to Messrs. Rothenberg and Robinson for demonstrating how right Creeley was.
-- Jack Foley, poet and critic, author of O Powerful Western Star

Compendious, capacious, global in scope, this third volume of Poems for the Millennium is a feast, a treasure, its commentaries a severe delight. Perhaps the two most unique features of Poems for the Millennium, volume 3, are its unapologetic formalism and its unabashed teleology: commentary after commentary draws fine, sometimes bold, lines of relation from these romantic and postromantic poems to modern and postmodern poetry, to avant-garde movements, between poetry and prose, and across national boundaries. There is no other anthology that undertakes what this book undertakes: to refresh and reorient us to nineteenth-century poetry, internationally conceived. -- Esther Schor, Princeton University, editor of The Cambridge Companion to Mary Shelley


This volume of Poems for the Millennium is every bit as challenging, unsettling, and surprising as its predecessors. It provokes us to take a fresh look at the achievements of ninetenth-century poets and of modernists often assumed to have defined themselves mainly by refusing and rejecting what came before. We have much to learn from this book about the diversity of ways in which poetry has found forms for responding to the world of which it is a part.-- William Keach, Brown University, author of Arbitrary Power: Romanticism, Language, Politics


[Poems for the Millennium, volume 3: The University of California Book of Romatnic & Postromantic Poetry, edited by me & Jeffrey Robinson, will be published in January 2009. Further information available at the following URL: http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/10540.php.]