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The Plural of UsPoetry and Community in Auden and Others$
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Bonnie Costello

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691172811

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691172811.001.0001

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Crowds, Publics, Congregations

Crowds, Publics, Congregations

(p.146) 7 Crowds, Publics, Congregations
The Plural of Us

Bonnie Costello

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses crowds and poetry. Poets have been both repulsed and fascinated by crowds, particularly in the industrialized city where crowds present a challenge to the ideal of the solitary, autonomous poetic subject. And this debate about the identity, cognition, and force of the crowd has been central to literary representation. For many, the crowd has seemed a unified being, a quantitative phenomenon taking on a qualitative feature as a single entity. Poets express not only revulsion but also attraction as the crowd offers an opportunity for expansion. When perceived as uncountable hordes, inassimilable within a public sphere of face-to-face encounter and I/You dialogue, produce an effect of the numerical sublime, appearing as a force of nature or of the supernatural.

Keywords:   poets, poetry, poems, crowds

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