Pound, Frost, Moore, and Poetic Precision
Science in Modernist American Poetry
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Pound, Frost, Moore and Poetic Precision: Science in American Modernist Poetry examines three major poets in light of the demand that poetry aspire to scientific precision. The critical insistence that poetry be precise affected every one of these poets, and looking at how they responded to this insistence offers a new perspective on their achievements and, by extension, twentieth-century poetry in general. Ezra Pound sought to associate poetry with the precision of modern science, technology and mathematics as a way to eliminate or reduce error. Robert Frost, however, welcomed imprecision as a fundamental aspect of existence that the poet could use. Marianne Moore appreciated the value of both precision and imprecision, especially with respect to her religious perspective on human and natural phenomena. By analyzing these particular poets’ reaction to the value placed on precision, Barry Ahearn explores how that emphasis influenced the broader culture, literary culture and twentieth-century Modernist American poetry.