Caesura
A worker reads history and a historian writes poetry
in Poetry for historians
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Historical novels do not carry any authority as historical statements about the periods to which they refer. Nevertheless, creative literature is valuable for the insight it offers into a writer's intellectual and social context; the popularity of authors in the past and the longevity of their work may be because they successfully articulated 'the values and preoccupations of literary contemporaries'. In 1960, E. P. Thompson produced a detailed reading of W. H. Auden's 'Spain 1937', declaring that the excisions and alteration that Auden made in the 1950s compromised his whole achievement as a poet. Thompson's 'Chemical Works I' is a song of what happens to human souls and psyches drowned in a relentless barrage of noise. Reading poetry is hard, and takes something out of a person. Reading history is so much easier, as the worker in Bertolt Brecht's 'A Worker Reads History' knew.

Poetry for historians

Or, W. H. Auden and history

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