An interest in how the features of the real, physical universe give shape to human thought and experience remains a central preoccupation of American poetry. Whether as cells or solar systems, sensual or spiritual, wild or urban, animal or vegetable or mineral, the forms of nature have not only driven poets to expressions of awe and praise but also roused them to explore the implications of the world's processes and their own role within them. At stake is an understanding of the world close at hand but beyond the individual self, threatening and comforting, full of possibility and mystery, flourishing and decaying according to its own ways.Less
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