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By: Conrad Aiken (1889-1973)

Book cover American Poetry, 1922 A Miscellany
Book cover House of Dust: A Symphony

The House of Dust is a poem written in the four-movement format of a classical symphony. Hauntingly beautiful despite its bleak post-World War I depictions of human mortality and loss, the poem develops its movements around central images such as Japanese ukiyo-e ("floating world") woodblock prints, touching the reader's senses with endlessly evocative allusions to wind, sea, and weather. In this underlying Japanese sensibility and dependence on central perceptual images, Aiken's poem is similar to poetry of Imagists of the time such as Amy Lowell. Also deeply influenced by the concepts of modern psychology, Aiken delved deeply into individual human identity and emotion.

Book cover Nocturne of Remembered Spring, and Other Poems

Written at the height of the Great War, the poems of this volume are suffused with a sense of melancholy and tragedy. Some of the poems (such as "1915: The Trenches") speak directly of war-time scenes and images, but even those which don't do so are permeated with a feeling of loss and desolation occasioned by the War. In spite of this pervading pathos, however, these poems are also filled with haunting beauty of imagery, drawn as Aiken so often does from natural images of wind, sea, and weather.


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