Radical Renfrew: Poetry from the French Revolution to World War I by Tom LeonardLast week I enjoyed the great privilege and even greater pleasure of meeting Tom Leonard at our writers groups annual residential at the Welsh National Writing Centre, Ty Newydd. Tom spoke about the book and kindly gifted us a copy which I immediately purloined.
As writer in residence at Paisley Library, Tom discovered hundreds of largely out of print books and pamphlets containing the poetry of writers who lived in Renfrew during the period indicated in the title. he set about reading them all, and here he presents an anthology of them coupled to brief biographical notes of each poet. The book also includes reference numbers for those wishing to go to the publications, either in Paisley or at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow. Also included is a thematic guide underthe headings of: Religion, Alcohol, Emigration, Employment, Unemployment, Trade Unions and Co-operatives, Anti-Ruling Class, Parliamentary Representation, Republican, Feminist, Soldiering and Police, Literature and Reputation, Town and City, Nature and the Country, Astronomy and Microscopy, Poetry Using Shape.
Toms introduction is a gem, and should be read by anybody with an interest in literature, wherever they live. It is a passionate and masterly analysis of the elitist class strand that filters literature into the discarded and the acceptable canon, and which embodies codes which from high determine what does and does not constitute a proper poem. He examines how dictions of the masses are sneered at, seen as degraded or worse, and how ruling ideology attempts to maintain a hegemony of culture that reflects itself as natural. His most passionate claim is the equality of a human, of a human being the human that they are, and he elucidates what this may mean. The introduction is radical, of course: it begins with the line: Any society is a society in conflict, and any anthology of a societys poetry that does not reflect this is a lie.
The poems included here are indeed wonderful. Included are extracts from James Thomsons The City of Dreadful Night, and Tom spends some time in his introduction demonstrating its thematic relevance to our present lives. Indeed, the project as a whole is relevant to our lives. What a marvellous thing it would be to see it repeated in libraries up and down the kingdom. These days especially when there are desperate attempts by some elitist university literature departments to cling on to their status by resurrecting that old lie of canonical literatures being a moral force to colonise and improve the groaning underbelly of society (thats about half of us, I reckon), it has never neen more important for us to resist such nonsense and assert our voices by right of being who we are.
The French Revolution - OverSimplified (Part 1)
The French Revolution as It Appeared to Enthusiasts at Its Commencement
William Wordsworth was one of the founders of English Romanticism and one its most central figures and important intellects. He is remembered as a poet of spiritual and epistemological speculation, a poet concerned with the human relationship to nature and a fierce advocate of using Prose Home Harriet Blog. Visit Home Events Exhibitions Library. Newsletter Subscribe Give. Poetry Foundation. Back to Previous.
It struck Britain like a thunderbolt affecting all layers of society and this was reflected in its artists and writers. Revolution in general acts as the locomotive of history. This profound observation of Leon Trotsky applies not just to the development of the productive forces but equally to that of culture in its most general sense.
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Revolution and empire
The French Revolution of provided no clean break with the complex literary culture of the Enlightenment. Many ways of thinking and feeling—whether based on reason, sentiment , or an exacerbated sensibility—and most literary forms persisted with little change from to Certainly, the Napoleonic regime encouraged a return to the Classical mode. Likewise, while the Gothic violence that had emerged in early Revolutionary drama and novels was curbed, its dynamic remained. The seeds of French Romanticism had been sown in national ground, long before writers began to turn to other nations to kindle their inspiration. His work first appeared in volume in and is thus associated with the first generation of French Romantic poets, who saw in him a symbol of persecuted genius.
Poets have commented on the events of the day, giving voice to the oppressed and downtrodden, immortalized rebels, and campaigned for social change. This poetic fountain of outrage was prompted by the infamous Peterloo Massacre of in Manchester, England. The massacre began as a peaceful protest of pro-democracy and anti-poverty and ended with at least 18 deaths and over serious injuries. Within those numbers were innocents; women and children. Two centuries later the poem retains its power.