America a Prophecy: A New Reading of American Poetry from Pre-Columbian Times to the Present


ISBN: 9781581771268
LCC Number:
Author: Jerome Rothenberg George Quasha
Pages: 642
Age Group:


When Thoreau wrote in his Journal in 1841| “Good poetry seems so simple and natural a thing that when we meet it we wonder that all men are not always poets|” and when Whitman describes Leaves of Grass as a “language experiment|” they are expressing an approach to poetry that never ceased and has grown continuously during recent decades. This ground-breaking anthology from the early 1970s takes such an approach in presenting the poetry of the North American continent| from pre-Columbian times to the present. It includes many recognized poets of the period| though appearing here in often unexpected contexts| and others who have been overlooked but whose contributions to the development of poetry are revolutionary. Starting from their own moment| the editors have read back into the more distant past and selected from broad American traditions works that had thitherto been considered outside the realm of poetry proper: the native poetry of the American continent| African-American sermons| blues and gospels| and the sacred| often innovative poetry of such radical religious groups as the Shakers. The book takes its title from William Blake’s poem presenting the American Revolution as not only a powerful| promising and problematic historical event but the birth of a new development in man’s consciousness-one that finds complex expression in the poetry of a continent. Selections mostly appear non-chronologically in juxtapositions suggesting what T. S. Eliot called the “simultaneous order” of all poetries of all times.

Additional information

Weight 2.05 lbs
Dimensions 9 × 6 × 1.42 in
Binding Type


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