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Conservatism, Pope, Politics: 250 Years Ago


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With public poetry which sets out to record, confront, and influence the external world, one must ask what is the structure of society the poet is dealing with; where does the poet stand in relation to the world of politics, religion and the broad base of values and beliefs; what channels of communication and social definition are available to the poet; in what ways is social change affecting his position and his poetic response to society and how does the personal and professional life of the poet affect his place in the poetic order and in the wider flux of life in society. -Ron Price with thanks to Isabel Rivers, The Poetry of Conservatism: 1600-1745, A Study of Poets and Public Affairs from Jonson to Pope, Rivers Press, Cambridge, 1973, p.ix. :lol:


An understanding of disorder,

images of the ideal,

essential for the public poet

who must state truths

which are perennial

but not archaic,

whose poetry flows

from some core of goodness

and its relationship to a vast complex

of processes within which

he constantly tries to define

and so create himself. :blink:


Dedication and training

can not be avoided,

nor the workings of time

and Providence

which are only partly comprehensible

as these “last days”

spin their unpredictable way

through the cosmos of our days

and this new myth and metaphor

is given the living tissue of vision

in a synthesis that is poetry-my poetry-

and a unity within the most ambitious

ethical system on earth:


Not chaos-like together crushed and bruised

But as the world, harmoniously confused.

Where order in variety we see,

And where, though all things differ, all agree.1


Friend, parent, neighbour, first it will embrace

This country next, and next all human race.2


Such were the fine sentiments then in this early

modern age; now we’re ready, finally, to free the cage.1


1 While the old world system of politics goes on, a new one is born, develops and becomes ready when the old, the moribund old, is ready for the bone-yard.


Ron Price

22 October 1996


1 Isabel Rivers quotes Alexander Pope, The Poetry of Conservatism, p.178.

2 ibid., p.186.


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  • 2 months later...

More on conservatism and the collapse of modern isms. :o





To let each impression and each germ of a feeling come to completion wholly in itself, in the dark, beyond the reach of one’s own intelligence, and await with deep humility and patience the birth-hour of a new clarity: that alone is living the artist’s life: in understanding as in creating. -R.M. Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet, WW Norton & Co, NY, Revised Edition. :unsure:


How does one explain the world?

The old terms, orientations, have collapsed:

socialism, liberalism, conservatism, radicalism,

communism, individualism, all isms that are wasms.

The inexpressible, the complex,

is even more beyond us now,

taking place in a realm where words

enter with difficulty. This mysterious existence,

the poem, will endure long after this trust

has been returned to Him. In this endurance

there is more than mystery; so, look within,

find your ample past, enjoy your dusky dwelling

and guide from your deeps, by an infinitely

tender hand, this everlasting sound. :ph34r:

Ron Price

4 January 1997


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