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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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Invitations to the Common

Invitations to the Common

(p.183) 8 Invitations to the Common
The Plural of Us

Bonnie Costello

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses the way poetry sometimes makes its reach for universals a dramatic process that involves not only singular “you's” and “I's” but a scale of “we's” and group affiliations. It wants to resonate for unknown readers whose situations are unique but for whom something fundamental in the poem remains true, if differently true, for them. Poetry can keep its inclusive “we” open and flexible, a space of the common. It achieves this by checking narrower configurations and often pressing against the voice of the hegemon; it moves cautiously and in degrees from the particular to the general, testing the impersonal for unconscious personal bias, recognizing many “we's” and frames of communication along the way, and widening or qualifying its scope but also infusing it with broad human emotional concern.

Keywords:   poems, poetry, universals, common

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