Michael Bryson; Arpi Movsesian

Published On


Page Range

pp. 501-512

Print Length

11 pages

Epilogue. Belonging to Poetry: A Reparative Reading

The book concludes with a brief consideration of the ways in which love is treated as a spent force in modern literature, beginning with a discussion of Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘The Love Poem,’ from her 2005 collection Rapture, and then moving on to considerations of two of the great dystopian novels of the twentieth century (Evgeny Zamyatin’s We and George Orwell’s 1984)), each of which casts love as the most powerful force for resisting a tyranny that finally crushes it beneath its heels. The epilogue suggests that the authoritarian spirit of Zamyatin’s ‘One State’ and Orwell’s ‘Big Brother’ is akin to that of the tradition of literary criticism that would transform the Song of Songs into a hymn of praise to an all-powerful God, that would turn the poetry of the troubadours into something less passionate than formulaic, and that would suggest that Adam should have abandoned Eve, choosing the power and authority of God over the love for (and of) his wife. The book’s final suggestion—made in a comparison of Pablo Neruda’s 1924 poem ‘Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche’ to the emotional situation of Adam’s choice in Paradise Lost, is that we read poetry through poetry, searching once again—perhaps in a Romantic sense—for the human spirit that all too much literary criticism has made a millennia-long career of interpreting away.


Arpi Movsesian