Contemporary Poets (Bloom's Modern Critical Views), New by Harold Bloom (Editor)

By Harold Bloom (Editor)

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Extra info for Contemporary Poets (Bloom's Modern Critical Views), New Edition

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But what is indeterminacy in Kafka is mere vagueness here: we don’t know where the poet must journey or why or in what “city” he now finds himself, but the nature of the journey is nevertheless easily understood. The traveler is afraid, for the projected journey is fraught with danger, pain, and hunger. ” One must simply go up those “bridges steep as hills”; there is no choice. It is the familiar allegory of pilgrimage—nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita. But the working out of this allegory involves Merwin in a certain contradiction between form and meaning.

18–19) The speaker coyly identifies himself with college-aged baby boomers. Time and age are, after all, liquid. Conformity to a fantastic reality is no conformity at all. We have learned the arts of “conforming to the rules and living / Around the home” from “avatars” (19), suggesting spiritual leaders, such as Meher Baba, who were relatively popular in America during the sixties for their appeals to an admixture of the everyday and the apocalyptic. Similarly, “Soonest Mended” achieves a “hazardous” romanticism by positing the incredible as a given.

5 Successful art, even abstract art, offers its audience the opportunity to note the workings of culture. Thus art can be a kind of spy. Indeed, since art is inescapably political, overt content is not necessary, and abstract art, better camouflaged, can be a more successful double agent. I am thus not arguing that Ashbery’s poetry is rawly realistic. More significantly, I contend that a typical Ashbery poem is effective as a poem and cultural product because it clarifies the workings of that poem’s historical period and our present understanding of that period.

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