One of my students made a poem about a recent historical event. But the poem didn't mention the event. Or the date. If a paleopoetologist found the poem 100 years from now, s/he might not know what it commemorated.
Churchill supposedly read "If We Must Die" on the floor of the Parliament during the Battle of Britain. And why not? But the predicament of the British nation at that point was rather different than that of African America in 1919 in the face of racial violence, which was McKay's occasion for the poem. But you wouldn't necessarily know it, to read it. There's lots of poetry from the 1910s like that, of course (see my chapter on Arturo Giovannitti).
But then there is "occasional" poetry - which is supposed to be fugitive, or ephemeral. To me, the specificity of the historical milieu is precisely what gives poems a punctum for those living in later years - this person, this place. Like me (see time stamp, below - or my chap. on Anna Louise Strong). I just can't get with the platonists.
This is all old hat. But why is it a perennial issue in poetry? It's Romanticism what did it, sez me.
[thanks to Ron S. for posting a link. Please add your 2 cents, y'all. I'm not kidding re: the "throw me a bone" thing - incl. citations, references, quotations, referrals]
On Wed., we go to Memphis, and I am going to try not to gloat. There's no escaping history there . . .
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15 hours ago