“The American Poet is Always a Seeker after God, but He Does Not Always Find God”: George Sylvester Viereck’s Lecture “America as a Land of Poets” (1911)
- УДК / UDK: 821.111
- Author: Vasilii E. Molodiakov
- About the author:
Vasilii E. Molodiakov, Doctor in Law, professor, Takushoku University, 3-4-14 Kohinata, Bunkyo City, Tokyo 112-8585, Japan.
ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5892-0473
The beginning of the American Poetic Renaissance is considered to be 1912: the Imagists, Poetry magazine, the new generation of poets — Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, Edna St. Vincent Millay, etc. This phenomenon keeps attracting a lot of attention of literary critics, meanwhile the previous two decades of American poetry fell out of sight of both readers and scholars. However it would be wrong to assume that there were no noteworthy poets and poems in America after Whitman’s death and before the debuts of Pound and Eliot. How did the American poets themselves evaluate “the current moment”? George Viereck’s lecture “America as a Land of Poets” delivered in 1911 at the University of Berlin can give an idea. George Sylvester Viereck (1884–1962), an outstanding poet, critic and editor, speaking of the “undiscovered, esoteric America, where religion and poetry dwell,” divided American poets into four groups. In the first one there are Whitman's heirs, nativists and democrats, singers of labor and comradeship, like Horace Traubel and Edwin Markham. Next, there are heirs of Poe, aristocrats and esthetes, masters of style, like George Santayana and William Vaughn Moody. The third group unites heirs of Longfellow, traditional and conservative authors, like Henry Van Dyke and Richard Watson Gilder. Finally, there are “lyrical rebels,” combining the legacy of Poe and Whitman and that of Swinburne and Baudelaire. Vireck included himself and the majority of young poets from the anthology The Younger Choir (1910) to the fourth group. This paper includes the full Russian translation of the lecture in Viereck’s English presentation.
- Keywords: late 19th — early 20th century American poetry, literary groups, ethics, traditionalism, Modernism, George Sylvester Viereck.
- For citation:
Molodiakov, Vasilii. “‘The American Poet Is Always a Seeker after God, but He Does Not Always Find God’: George Sylvester Viereck’s Lecture ‘America As a Land of Poets’ (1911).” Literature of the Americas, no. 12 (2022): 213–235. https://doi.org/10.22455/2541-7894-2022-12-213-235