To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
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

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Reconfiguring Romanticism (1)

In January 2009 the University of California Press will be publishing Poems for the Millennium, Volume 3, edited by Jeffrey Robinson & me as the University of California Book of Romantic & Postromantic Poetry. What we’re aiming at here is to reclaim a tradition of experimental romanticism as the opening into that revolutionary & experimental modernism/postmodernism that was the center of the earlier two volumes of Poems for the Millennium, co-edited in that instance with Pierre Joris. It is our hope that the present work, international in scope like its predecessors, will form a still greater linkage & will show both the bonds & the conflicts involved in the reworking & reconstruction of what came before us. As a prelude to that publication, it’s my intention over the next several months to present some of our commentaries for Volume 3 and, where feasible, some of the newly recovered or newly translated works that the book will be displaying.

To set the tone, then, here are five epigraphs that open the book, ranging from the end of the 18th century to the almost present. Or, as David Antin once said of me (whatever he really meant), “The past is yet to come.”

* * *

“The romantic kind of poetry is still in the state of becoming; that, in fact, is its real essence: that it should for­ever be becoming and never be perfected. … The romantic kind of poetry is the only one that is more than a kind, that it is, as it were, poetry itself: for in a certain sense all poetry is or should be romantic.”
Friedrich Schlegel

"It should be unnecessary to point out that romanticism, as a specific state of mind and temperament whose function is to create from scratch a new general conception of the world, transcends the very limited fashions of feeling and declaiming which are proposed as its successors and which textbooks strive to situate on the same plane as romanticism itself, declaring the latter to be decrepit -- and thereby exorcising the subversive elements in it. ... Above and beyond the sprinkling of works proceeding from it, or derived from it, notably through symbolism and expressionism, romanticism asserts itself as a continuum."

André Breton

“The critical texts of the English and German Romantics were true revolutionary manifestos, and established a tradition which continues today. … But in 1800, as again in 1920, what was new was not so much that poets were speculating in prose about poetry, but that this speculation overflowed the limits of the old poetics, proclaiming that the new poetry was also a new way of feeling and living.”
Octavio Paz

“With the Romantic movement, the intellectual adventure of not knowing, of ‘Negative Capability,’ Keats called it in poetry, returns. The truth we know is not of What Is, but of What Is Happening.”
Robert Duncan

“If in the 19th century, as Gertrude Stein said, people saw parts and tried to assemble them into wholes, while in the 20th century people envisioned wholes and then sought parts appropriate to them, will the 21st century carry out a dissemination of wholes into all parts and thus finish what the 19th century began?”
Lyn Hejinian

[For more information, see]


Margo Berdeshevsky said...

jerry, good to see you flying net-words here! my own favorite romantic's reconfiguring quote, which i keep in my notebook: "One day i will be a bird and will snatch my being out of my nothingness."(mahmoud darwish.)

all love your way...margo

Anonymous said...

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