Prose Poem (2313 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay


While some critics have traced the origins of the American prose poem to the German Romantic fragments of Novalis and Friedrich Schlegel, James Macpherson’s Poems of Ossian, or Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essays, most consider Baudelaire’s Paris Spleen (begun in 1855 and first published in full in 1869) as the first instance of a consciously cultivated tradition of the genre. In his Preface to the collection, Baudelaire defines the prose poem as “the miracle of a poetic prose, musical though rhythmless and rhymeless, flexible yet rugged enough to identify with the lyrical impulses of the soul, the ebbs and flows of revery, the pangs of conscience” (25). Baudelaire’s collection was one of …

Citation: Delville, Michel. "Prose Poem". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 29 July 2018 [, accessed 23 April 2021.]

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