By Harold Bloom
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As capitalist societies within the twenty-first century flow from predicament to concern, oppositional hobbies within the international North were slightly stymied (despite ephemeral manifestations like Occupy), faced with the urgent have to enhance organizational infrastructures that would organize the floor for a true, and sturdy, substitute.
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- African-American Poets, Volume 2, New Edition (Bloom's Modern Critical Views)
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Eliot, he writes of Booker T. Washington and Etienne as well as all the fallen dead of Hampton Institute, Arlington, and beyond. Herein lies Harper’s important contribution to contemporary poetry, combining a modernist use of allusion with criticism of the cultural tenets that modernism so often endorsed. His is the “literature of the great / rainbowed swamp,” and it recalls Robert Browning’s poem “â•›‘Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came’â•›”: â•‡ Names in my ears Of all the lost adventurers my peers,— How such a one was strong, and such was bold, And such was fortunate, yet each of old â•‡ Lost, lost!
I want to supply detailed close reading of a few individual poems and then return to consider the poems’ contribution toward a more fully American ecocriticism. Harper’s exploration of what W. E. B. Du Bois called “the problem of the color line” (xxiii) has important implications for our urgently needed development of an environmental ethic. While Harper’s title Images of Kin emphasizes human interconnectedness, the quiet role of place in the “Uplift” series extends beyond questions of transracial and transgenerational kinship.
Woods and the woods’ shadows. Dusks, moons. Phillips, in particular, produces pastoral settings for nearly philosophical Mighty Lines 33 poems: there are even occasional deer (although the old puns on hart/heart, chased/chaste, are left largely latent). This is only to be expected of a book entitled Pastoral, of course, but “it’s desire again, passing / us by, souveniring us with / gospel the grass turned / choir, leans into” (“The Truth”). Even the line breaks suggest how fraught this field is, how now that the shouting is all over there is only the barely audible grass to hearken toward.
African-American Poets, Volume 2, New Edition (Bloom's Modern Critical Views) by Harold Bloom