poetry Archives - Ethics & Public Policy Center

The Genius of Wordsworth

William Wordsworth was the greatest of the English Romantics, innovative in form and content, yet with a lasting influence on the conservative sensibility in culture and politics. Now he, along with Shakespeare and perhaps John Milton, belongs to the exclusive company of English poets whose names even the minimally educated are almost certain to have heard.

Everlasting Youth

Renowned above all for his flights of lyric sublimity, Percy Bysshe Shelley could be as ravishingly melancholy as John Keats and as tenderly exultant as William Wordsworth. Yet his verse could be flagrantly unlovely in the service of his political hatreds, which were many and fierce.

The Fellowship of the Cursed Poets

Delmore Schwartz, Randall Jarrell, Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, and John Berryman, all of whom died more than 40 years ago, remain the most famous American poets born in the 20th century. They are known even more for their tortured, prematurely extinguished lives than for their poetry.

Return of the Notman

The age of opioids (among other contaminations) suggests a look back at the odd Robinson Jeffers, and at what he said in his poems—and at his cranky and ruthless life as a semi-solitary poet living on what was then a wild stretch of the central California coast.

Don Juan in Hell

Lord Byron defined the species of Romanticism that had the most profound effect on artists and political firebrands of the era, not only in England but throughout Europe, and that has persisted into our own time.

A Point of View: Has Modern Art Exhausted Its Power to Shock?

It is worth asking ourselves why the cult of fake originality has such a powerful appeal to our cultural institutions, so that every museum and art gallery, and every publicly funded concert hall, has to take it seriously.