Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Byron in the margins

I had some further thoughts re 'Poetry in the Margins' (my piece on the website The Conversation) while I was watching Tom Stoppard's Arcadia in Oxford last week. The play relies upon references to Byron as an historical figure everyone has heard of. But the current marginalising of poetry will lead not just to further marginalising of contemporary poetry but to poetry in general being marginalised, including the great poets of the past. As the prestige of poetry declines, even the great poetic achievements of the past will be less and less acknowledged. Donne and Milton and Wordsworth will  be whittled away in the culture. Byron's reputation may well stand up better than most because it is only partly based on his marvellous manipulation of ottava rima, but it not a great prospect to imagine him being remembered almost solely as a man 'mad, bad and dangerous to know.'