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The Music of Time: Poetry in the Twentieth Century

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A Financial Times Book of the Year Though we might not realise it, our collective memory of the twentieth century was defined by the poets who lived and wrote in it. At every significant turning point we find them, pen in hand, fingers poised at the typewriter, ready to distil the essence of the moment, from the muddy wastes of the Western front to the vast reckoning that c A Financial Times Book of the Year Though we might not realise it, our collective memory of the twentieth century was defined by the poets who lived and wrote in it. At every significant turning point we find them, pen in hand, fingers poised at the typewriter, ready to distil the essence of the moment, from the muddy wastes of the Western front to the vast reckoning that came with the end of empire. This is the first and only history of twentieth century poetry, by the acclaimed poet, author and academic John Burnside. Bringing together poets from times and places as diverse as Tsarist Russia, 1960's America and Ireland at the height of the Troubles, The Music of Time reveals how poets engaged with and shaped the most important issues of their times - and were in their turn affected by their context and dialogue with each other. This is a major work of scholarship, that on every page bears witness to the transformative beauty and power of poetry.


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A Financial Times Book of the Year Though we might not realise it, our collective memory of the twentieth century was defined by the poets who lived and wrote in it. At every significant turning point we find them, pen in hand, fingers poised at the typewriter, ready to distil the essence of the moment, from the muddy wastes of the Western front to the vast reckoning that c A Financial Times Book of the Year Though we might not realise it, our collective memory of the twentieth century was defined by the poets who lived and wrote in it. At every significant turning point we find them, pen in hand, fingers poised at the typewriter, ready to distil the essence of the moment, from the muddy wastes of the Western front to the vast reckoning that came with the end of empire. This is the first and only history of twentieth century poetry, by the acclaimed poet, author and academic John Burnside. Bringing together poets from times and places as diverse as Tsarist Russia, 1960's America and Ireland at the height of the Troubles, The Music of Time reveals how poets engaged with and shaped the most important issues of their times - and were in their turn affected by their context and dialogue with each other. This is a major work of scholarship, that on every page bears witness to the transformative beauty and power of poetry.

30 review for The Music of Time: Poetry in the Twentieth Century

  1. 4 out of 5

    Yashoda Sampath

    Framed as a memoir, The Music of Time is a great account of how poetry has shaped and influenced everything in the 20th century, from politics to revolution to philosophy to natural history. There’s much in this book that will stay with me forever, including a long list of revolutionary poets I’ll immediately be diving into, but the thing that I’ll keep closest is the idea that poetry is not a romantic or descriptive art, but almost scientific - great poetry illuminates what’s happening in this Framed as a memoir, The Music of Time is a great account of how poetry has shaped and influenced everything in the 20th century, from politics to revolution to philosophy to natural history. There’s much in this book that will stay with me forever, including a long list of revolutionary poets I’ll immediately be diving into, but the thing that I’ll keep closest is the idea that poetry is not a romantic or descriptive art, but almost scientific - great poetry illuminates what’s happening in this world, and gives words to what might otherwise be unknowable.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Donald Reese

    I had moments of real joy reading this book; it has some fascinating things to say about where we live and who we are and how poetry makes the connections between them real and possible. Some of it seems less . . . revelatory. But Burnside is a good and happy companion, and he pointed me to some poems that I would have missed and gave me a lot to ponder in these days of stay-at-home. Worth reading at the rate of a couple of pages a day.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jack Mckeever

    An always elegant, mostly very captivating and occasionally maddening assertion of the power of 20th century poetry. I don't always agree with Burnside - in fact I think he's something of a dinosaur - but his prose is pretty much always beautiful, his analysis at the very least interesting and he's sometimes encouragingly righteous, especially in a few of the later chapters. I'm undecided about whether he makes a completely convincing argument about the power of poetry. There are certainly circu An always elegant, mostly very captivating and occasionally maddening assertion of the power of 20th century poetry. I don't always agree with Burnside - in fact I think he's something of a dinosaur - but his prose is pretty much always beautiful, his analysis at the very least interesting and he's sometimes encouragingly righteous, especially in a few of the later chapters. I'm undecided about whether he makes a completely convincing argument about the power of poetry. There are certainly circumstances in which poetry has made a sociological difference and accounting - the Spanish Civil war, the American Civil Rights movement, Seamus Heaney's Northern Ireland - but there is a general sense of preaching to the choir still here. One of the most touching aspects is his personal reflections, pithy assertions and often beautiful depictions of how the work has impacted him; but will any of that convince an indifferent public (in Western culture, anyway) of the power of poetry? I'm not sure. But does it ultimately matter? Not in the slightest. For those of us who believe in poetry from a point of personal connection, 'The Music of Time' is a lilting and resonant reading experience, most effecting in showcasing how poets have made sense of the sociological across the globe in gorgeously different ways.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Pamela Johnson

    excellent mix of memoir with close reading of key poems - Highly recommend.

  5. 4 out of 5

    James Hughes

    Essential reading , great !

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mark Reid

  7. 4 out of 5

    Gail Willington

  8. 5 out of 5

    PJB

  9. 4 out of 5

    Toni-Emma

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mark

  11. 5 out of 5

    Taylor Douglas

  12. 4 out of 5

    Simon D

  13. 4 out of 5

    A. Smith

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tom Peters

  15. 4 out of 5

    Vi Yen Nguyen

  16. 5 out of 5

    Reading List

  17. 4 out of 5

    Miranda Freestone

  18. 4 out of 5

    Adam

  19. 4 out of 5

    Richard

  20. 5 out of 5

    norman

  21. 4 out of 5

    Therese Broderick

  22. 4 out of 5

    Keith Cotterill

  23. 4 out of 5

    Richard Musson

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Atherton

  25. 4 out of 5

    Zoë

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jude

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sasmira Lase

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tim O'mahony

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jon Moreton

  30. 4 out of 5

    Omar

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