The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“End of the Seers’ Convention” is a narrative poem in blank verse which is essentially a conversation or series of statements delivered by various delegates at an imaginary conference of mystics and other representatives of the occult. After the narrator, or central consciousness of the poem, sets the scene, one of the practitioners of parapsychological phenomena offers prophetic observations on the future of humankind to which the others respond with derision or dismissal.

The incredible is casually established when the narrator remarks that he and his fellow seers were “walking and talking on the roof of the world.” The focus of the meeting is described as a potential unification of all the realms that rule and influence life in the universe. The body of the poem consists of prophetic utterances from members of specific disciplines, followed by qualifications, challenges, or rebuttals by members of different ones.

The first stanza contains a prediction by an astrologer of a world which is much like the mid-twentieth century, when the poem was written, but is set in a distant era. A Gypsy, who represents the humane aspects of life in opposition to the scientifically analytic or mechanical, denigrates the technical marvels as less significant than the question of who will control the forces created by technology. The astrologer appears uninterested in this question and returns to his initial vision of great global trends, remarking...

(The entire section is 523 words.)

Forms and Devices

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

In the 1930’s, Kenneth Fearing examined ordinary situations, using powerful language, rhetorical techniques, and unusual rhythms. As Kenneth Rexroth pointed out, Fearing’s voice developed from an immersion “in the lingo of the mass culture.” By the mid-1940’s, however, he began to work in a vein which might be called visionary. In dealing with the extraordinary, the metaphysical, and the fantastic, Fearing realized that understatement was crucial and that a very careful control of tone was necessary to maintain the spell of the poem. Therefore, “End of the Seers’ Convention” begins in an extremely low-key fashion, the narrator remarking as if in recollection of a thoroughly ordinary event. The supernatural is abruptly, but almost offhandedly, introduced when the location is revealed and the narrator observes that the subject of the discussion is the key to life itself.

In an extended figure designed to emphasize the importance of the theme, Fearing repeats the word “seven” (with all its mystical associations) three times, using it to modify Great, True, and Ultimate, and heightens the setting by referring to “leagues” and “spheres.” After this declaration of magnitude, Fearing returns to his initial tone, humanizing the participants with descriptive touches: The astrologer is from Idaho, the Gypsy is a self-described “simple reader of tea-leaves,” the crystal gazer is from Miami, and the illusionist is from Bombay....

(The entire section is 557 words.)