Essays

The Identity of the Modern Poet as Landscape

In Portrait of the Poet as Landscape, A.M. Klein engages with the identity of the poet and the role of his art. The poem is a künstlerroman, which sees the maturity of an artist against the decaying modern society around him. The insignificance and irrelevance of the poet in the modern age is stressed. It is not clear if the poet is living or dead—it does not matter for “We are sure only that from our real society / he has disappeared; he simply does not count” (Klein 15-16). Klein places the poet in juxtaposition with the public and the reader by using the plural person pronoun: “we” and “our” against the disappeared poet. The public does not care about the poet, nor does the poet appear to care about himself: he is “incognito, lost, lacunal” (Klein 28).

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