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Why The Classics Criticism

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In the introduction to Herbert's Selected Poems, in which "Why the Classics" was published in 1968, Al Alvarez states that Herbert is an exception to the notion that there is a split between poetry and politics. Alvarez explains that generally the language of modern poetry does not go with the language of modern politics. Poetry, according to Alvarez, is filled with complexities and tension, while politics is rhetoric and clichés. Most often modern political poetry can be effective, but it is not good poetry. However, Alvarez finds that Herbert is "an avant-garde poet whose experiments and precise, restrained rhythms have sent Polish prosody off in a new direction." According to Alvarez, Herbert's use of classicism is a way of coping with an out-of-control world, a "minority politics of sanity and survival," that maintains the political opposition to which he has assigned himself a role. These same attributes...

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This section contains 442 words
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Buy the Why The Classics Study Guide
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Why The Classics from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.