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Allen Tate: Blooms Major Poets: Comprehensive Research And by Harold Bloom

By Harold Bloom

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Extra resources for Allen Tate: Blooms Major Poets: Comprehensive Research And Study Guide (Bloom's Major Poets)

Sample text

The voice of the leaves is reduced to a mere whisper; he implies that 37 there is for him no individual choice, only the determinism of science. Because he can have only a limited possibility of significant action, his capacity for struggle is likewise limited. If this is true, then he must be a lesser man than his predecessor. He may even be a sentimentalist who uses his philosophy as an excuse to avoid the possibility of action. But in the section of the poem which follows, he is partially saved, as was his predecessor, by “knowledge carried to the heart”—his direct apprehension of the world of symbols.

For Eliot’s agonist the inner world cannot pierce into an outer world. Valéry, like Tate, mentions “cruel Zeno” who freezes the world in subjective vision, but then goes on to suppose the subjective vision can give movement to existence. Stevens also ends confident of a subjective vision which he believes offers a metaphysics parallel to the clutter of objective phenomena, so that death is not only the natural but also the mystical mother of beauty. Tate’s “Ode to the Confederate Dead” is bleaker than Eliot’s poem, less humanly arrogant than Valéry’s or Stevens’, less willing to soften or dilute its theme.

At the same time, Tate is once again identifying himself—or, perhaps, an earlier version of himself—with Crane, who is made to speak here for a type of heroism that is inaccessible to both himself and Tate. Close to the surface of this argument, I would suggest, is an assertion that Crane himself is a model of “moral heroism,” and the only sort of hero to be found in an age of 58 decadence.

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