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date: 12 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article attempts to recover some of the cultural work of the more tightly constructed traditional stanzas and forms in which Robert Lowell himself had written his earlier poems. It sketches the career of closed form on the political Left during the tranquilized 1950s. Where much of the formal verse of the decade let the lyric's dream work release social tensions in managed and manageable ways, a good deal of poetry aimed at once to name and to arouse the will to change the causes of social stress. The article focuses on one exemplary Periodical—the communist magazine Masses & Mainstream—and on the work of four poets who published in the magazine and produced avowedly political poetry in conventional meters and stanzas, poetry that sought not to tranquilize but to awaken. These are Edwin Rolfe, Eve Merriam, Walter Lowenfels, and Aaron Kramer.

Keywords: Robert Lowell, American poets, modern poetry, stanzas, communist magazine, Masses & Mainstream, Edwin Rolfe, Eve Merriam, Walter Lowenfels, Aaron Kramer

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