Conrad Aiken Poetry: American Poets Analysis
A poet and artist of the second American Renaissance, Conrad Aiken pursued the theme of the poet alone, whose only true friends appear to be the characters of his writings. Technically, his poetry extends from the rhymes and measures of couplet and quatrain and blank and free verse to the more richly concentrated forms of the commemorative ode and “symphony”; the sonnet (“little song”) and its sequence, such as “And in the Human Heart”; and the aubade (“morning song”), among a variety of experimental forms.
Aiken’s experiments constantly remind readers of the tradition of meter, and especially of rhyme. Even his free verse uses enough rhyme to let one know that Aiken’s sense of poetic tradition is important. Aiken is perhaps most admired for his exploration of music within poetic forms as he mixes iambs with polysyllables, ranging from five- to three-stress meters.
Aiken is part of a Romantic humanist tradition that seeks to heal the hurt of human bereavement and the failure of social revolution by substituting the idea of the creator God for the godly creator. The poet-hero shows that it is possible to achieve solitary pleasure in the “resurrected” imagination, and in spite of social failures and inadequacies, there is a type of poetry, a wry music of spiritual revolution, in which lyric narrative and dialogue resist social distress. Aiken creates the enduring mock- or antihero, seen best in Punch in his early writings...
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