By Professor Hugh Kenner
The sacred booklet of the humanities --
A be aware at the nice American novel --
With the naked arms --
Dr. Williams shaping his awl --
Whitman's multitudes --
Faces to the wall --
Subways to Parnassus --
Tales of the Vienna Woods --
Provision of measures --
Remember that i've got remembered --
Conrad and Ford --
In the wake of the anarch --
Supreme in her abnormality --
At the hawk's good --
The satan and Wyndham Lewis --
Inside the featherbed --
Alice in Empsonland --
Ezra Pound and the sunshine of France --
Under the larches of paradise.
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Extra info for Gnomon : essays on contemporary literature
He writes when he knows what there is to be said, and conveys his gists without periphrasis. " When the Dr-critics of xxx Cantos were fussing about Pound's pedantry or his aestheticism, Williams was staring hard at Pound's theme. Twenty-four years before Rock-Drill he defined it: "A closed mind which clings to its power-about which the intelligence beats seeking entrance": bull's-eye with one shot. Preoccupied not by the standards of traditional excellence with which Pound, to the confusion of most readers, retains contact, but by his own hard won perception of the nature of a responsible mod ern American poet's job, Williams wasn't alarmed whenever Pound stopped imitating a Grecian night ingale.
L 11 ' ,1 1 1 . "", 'I I;i! ,1 ,', ,I 1 ,11,1 1 :. I,' " "I JII'I 1 1 ':11 1'1 'I " i II This is, once again, Dr. Williams' familiar critical theme, that America has a language which American poets, busy using the old one well, aren't by and large aware of. It was worth his repeating it, to give us a role in which to see Whitman. Once so seen, not simply, as Mr. Cowley sees him, the anonymous recipient of a miracle, but the man with a definite address in time who noticed what ought to be done 71 72 GNOMON Abroad 3 tend to take him as a prophet like Marx or Isaiah, or that everybody else gets somehow in volved with biography.
And having restored him to art. It is obviously important to discover who "we" are supposed to be, who know these bitter things, that GNOMON Whitman's Multitudes art is a fake but when vital has death somewhere at its roots. Mr. Fiedler would seem to be appealing to the collective wisdom of the Lonely Crowd who make a cult of European decadence and mistake, say, Kafka for a physician rather than a symptom. So far, so banal; it is in the next paragraph (his penultimate) that Mr. Fiedler allows a revelation of some significance to escape: the whole novel tradition of an aristocratic govern ment deriving authority from a popular franchise.