On Poetry II: ‘I want to write a new poem of a new class’

  • Elizabeth Barrett


A few characters — a simple story — and plenty of room for passion and thought — that is what I want. … [P]eople care for a story — there’s the truth! And I who care so much for stories, am not to find fault with them. And now tell me, — where is the obstacle to making as interesting a story of a poem as of a prose work—Echo answers where.1 Conversations and events, why may they not be given as rapidly and passionately and lucidly in verse as in prose — echo answers why. You see nobody is offended by my approach to the conventions of vulgar life in ‘Lady Geraldine’2 — and it gives me courage to go on, and touch this real everyday life of our age, and hold it with my two hands. I want to write a poem of a new class, in a measure — a Don Juan, without the mockery and impurity, — under one aspect, — and having unity, as a work of art, — and admitting of as much philosophical dreaming and digression (which is in fact a characteristic of the age) as I like to use. Might it not be done, even if I could not do it? and I think of trying at any rate.

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

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  • Elizabeth Barrett

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