Of Confederates and Catholics
First Things publishes my review of a new study of Allen Tate's work in this month's issue. The online version has just been released today. From the review:
In Tate’s best-known poem, “Ode to the Confederate Dead,” a man stands at the gate of a Confederate cemetery, trying and failing to believe that the past can inform the present with a significance that might guide his life. He wants to believe in the lost cause of the South, or that the divine speaks to us through the book of nature; he requires a credible myth that inspires him to real action in the world. But the refrain, “Dazed by the wind, only the wind / The leaves flying, plunge,” reveals the man’s incapacity to see any meaning in the “Rank upon rank” of Confederate soldiers fighting and dying in battle. The only myth that impresses him is that of materialism, telling him that nothing has any meaning.
Click the picture to have a look at "Tate Unmodern."
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