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William Blake, the Romantic Era painter and poet (1757–1827) is the author of many famous lines of poetry.

He seeks the crown of this season’s Scarriet Poetry March Madness with this one:

He who mocks the infant’s faith
Shall be mocked in age & death

But he’s up against a monster!

Alfred Tennyson’s

Blow bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

Poetry participates in sound.

The Modernists make the absurd claim that poetry can be prose—which implies that prose cannot be poetic.  But. Yes. Prose can be poetic—-in every manner in which the Modernists define poetry—and so we see the complete absurdity of the Modernist definition of poetry—which is no definition at all.

If there are no rules for baseball, there is no baseball, there is chaos, and there is already plenty of chaos in the universe.  But if there are rules for baseball, we have baseball, which adds to the world’s enjoyments.  Rules add. Freedom subtracts. One should celebrate definitions and rules—for they produce bountyScarcity, anxiety, and boredom come about when definitions and rules are destroyed.

We love the sentiment of Blake’s couplet, and the strange and marvelous “infant’s faith.”

But the Tennyson is pure poetry of the highest kind.

Blake’s is the impulse for poetry.

Tennyson’s is poetry.

Tennyson wins.




  1. maryangeladouglas said,

    April 1, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    I would never think to compare Blake and Tennyson. I realize this because of the Norton Anthology fences between the Romantics and the Victorians. But fortunately, poetry in the Scarriet essays is all free range, kind of don’t fence me in and when you think this way even if you don’t agree with every point made reading a Scarriet essay sharpens and enlivens your own mind concerning poetry and lets the fresh air in. And now I am thinking about what a meeting between Blake and Tennyson would be like, a conversation between them and it is challenging to imagine but I can’t think why. And what a perfectly Alice in Wonderland or Samuel Beckett type moment is engendered in the brain by the phrase “Every manner by which the Modernists define poetry…IS NO DEFINITION AT ALL. Blake as the impulse for poetry is lovely also.

    • thomasbrady said,

      April 1, 2017 at 10:10 pm

      Thanks, Mary. Yes, the field is wide open and I am fortunate to see. It is the world, oh wondrous world. Not me.

      • maryangeladouglas said,

        April 2, 2017 at 12:44 am

        I understand the feeling that it is something beyond you the feeling of the larger sense of things the field being the universe itself and of the universe of poetry especially as beyond yet at the same time a person who illuminates this ‘beyond” is immensely valuable and should be praised for bringing back this consciousness which has been so decimated over and over. THANK YOU.

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