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The Plain Style in Southern Poetry

The Plain Style in Southern Poetry The Plain Style in Southern Poetry by Nick Norwood In one of his essays, W.H. Auden reminds us that it is Keats’s urn and not Keats himself who says “‘Beauty is Truth, truth beauty’” (“Ode” 210). Then, in the next paragraph, Auden gainsays that pro- nouncement: “Art,” he says, “arises out of our desire for beauty and truth [italics mine] and our knowledge that they are not identical” (377). He goes on to establish a dichotomy between truth and beauty in poetry, characterizing the tension between the two as a “rivalry between Ariel and Prospero,” with Ariel, The Tempest’s airy spirit, whose “glory and his limitation” is that he has no passions, representing beauty, and the shrewd and pragmatic Prospero representing truth. Although, says Auden, all good poems involve “some degree of collaboration between Ariel and Prospero . . . it is usually possible to say of a poem and, sometimes, of the whole output of a poet, that it is Ariel-dominated or Prospero-dom- inated” (338). In fact, it seems possible to make such a claim about an entire group or school of poetry — for instance, contemporary southern poets writ- ing in the plain style. No doubt the http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Southern Literary Journal University of North Carolina Press

The Plain Style in Southern Poetry

The Southern Literary Journal , Volume 43 (1) – Mar 16, 2011

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 the Southern Literary Journal and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of English.
ISSN
1534-1461

Abstract

The Plain Style in Southern Poetry by Nick Norwood In one of his essays, W.H. Auden reminds us that it is Keats’s urn and not Keats himself who says “‘Beauty is Truth, truth beauty’” (“Ode” 210). Then, in the next paragraph, Auden gainsays that pro- nouncement: “Art,” he says, “arises out of our desire for beauty and truth [italics mine] and our knowledge that they are not identical” (377). He goes on to establish a dichotomy between truth and beauty in poetry, characterizing the tension between the two as a “rivalry between Ariel and Prospero,” with Ariel, The Tempest’s airy spirit, whose “glory and his limitation” is that he has no passions, representing beauty, and the shrewd and pragmatic Prospero representing truth. Although, says Auden, all good poems involve “some degree of collaboration between Ariel and Prospero . . . it is usually possible to say of a poem and, sometimes, of the whole output of a poet, that it is Ariel-dominated or Prospero-dom- inated” (338). In fact, it seems possible to make such a claim about an entire group or school of poetry — for instance, contemporary southern poets writ- ing in the plain style. No doubt the

Journal

The Southern Literary JournalUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Mar 16, 2011

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