Poetry is not just a commentary on culture or a reflection of it, but a shaping participant within it. The history of genre, particularly, is the story of the changing ways in which we discuss, describe and think. I suggest that poetry of the period under discussion might be read with greater alertness to its formal negotiation with some of the key philosophical questions of modernity even while, and perhaps particularly when, its content may appear conventional and nostalgic. After all, lyric poetry responded to some of the key conceptual shifts of the nineteenth century because it had to: some of its core generic conventions were deeply challenged by changing ways of thinking and being....
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