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Humanities 2012, 1(3), 117-144; doi:10.3390/h1030117

Making Nothing Happen: Yeats, Heidegger, Pessoa, and the Emergence of Post-Romanticism

Department of English, Faculty of Arts, University of Malta, Msida, MSD 2080, Malta
Received: 19 August 2012 / Revised: 20 September 2012 / Accepted: 24 September 2012 / Published: 1 October 2012
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Abstract

Through close readings of the work of two major poets of the twentieth century—W.B. Yeats and Fernando Pessoa—this paper identifies and attempts to make sense of an important shift in European modernism away from a broadly Romantic aesthetic toward what might be called “post-Romanticism.” Taking its cue from W.H. Auden’s “In Memory of W.B. Yeats,” where having stated that “poetry makes nothing happen” he asserts that it survives as “a way of happening,” and drawing on the philosophy of Heidegger and Jean-Luc Nancy, this paper argues that this shift from Romanticism to post-Romanticism hinges on a deep metaphysical reconceptualization of poetry understood as poiesis. In light of this reassessment of the aesthetics and philosophical affinities of poetic modernism, it is argued that post-Romanticism should be understood as offering a modest, salutary, phenomenological re-acquaintance with our involvement with the everyday world, in sharp contrast to the transcendental ambitions of the Romantic aesthetic that preceded it.
Keywords: poetry; poiesis; romanticism; Auden; Yeats; Heidegger; Pessoa; Nancy; phenomenology; aesthetics poetry; poiesis; romanticism; Auden; Yeats; Heidegger; Pessoa; Nancy; phenomenology; aesthetics
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Corby, J. Making Nothing Happen: Yeats, Heidegger, Pessoa, and the Emergence of Post-Romanticism. Humanities 2012, 1, 117-144.

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