A.D. Hope and the Poetry of Allusion

The past in A. D. Hope's poetry is very much a literary past. The poems show that Hope's relationship to the past and present is that of a man of m culture. He sees the past mediated through art and literature and his concern is to renew and revivify literary traditions. As Leonie Kramer writes in her Introduction to Hope's Collected Poems (1930-70), 'His imagination is aroused not by the particularities of* a place and time, but by other men's minds from other times and places'.1 Instead of creating new myths, Hope's poetry rather commemorates the need to keep alive past myths, forms and traditions. Hope once said of Coleridge and his poem 'Kubla Khan' that:

Nothing that Coleridge ever wrote conveys such a sense of vivid and magical pictures in the mind such an impression of intense and brilliant vision. Yet note that not one detail comes from direct observation of nature which Wordsworth's theory demands. Every least detail has been traced to its source, and every one came, not from Coleridge's observation, but from his reading.

The same can be said of Hope's own poetry—the literature of the past is one of his main sources of inspiration. Hope is a writer for whom the past is not only important, but a milieu that is more appealing than the present. His essay, 'The Discursive Mode' from The Cave and the Spring, is a lament for the past. While it is impossible to agree with Hope that all of today's literature is a barren field, his essay is nevertheless an engaging piece of writing. Using an ecological metaphor, he argues that we are eliminating the various forms and genres of poetry, just as we are chopping down forests and killing more and more species of animal every year:

But gone is the landscape in which the epic, the great philosophic poem and the verse tragedy massed their great timbers and delighted by the contrast of forms and foliage; in which verse satire, the ode, the epistle, the elegy, the romance, the hortatory or instructive poem, the pastoral and the long meditative poem or celebrant hymn, gave its general character to the woodland, while innumerable lowlier forms of sonnet or epigram and song filled all the space between. Instead there now is only the sparse and monotonous vegetation of the arid steppe: little poems of reflection, brief comments, interior monologues, critical barks and hisses,

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Published 1 October 1979 in Volume 9 No. 2. Subjects: Literary allusions & references, Literary tradition, Writer's works.

Cite as: Abraham, Lyndy. ‘A.D. Hope and the Poetry of Allusion.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 9, no. 2, 1979, doi: 10.20314/als.9dc1f42155.