William Empson Poems

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William Empson
Sir William Empson (27 September 1906 15 April 1984) was an English literary critic and poet, regarded by some to be the greatest English literary critic after Samuel Johnson and William Hazlitt and a fitting heir to their mode of subtle, witty and politically informed close reading of literary works. Jonathan Bate has remarked that the three greatest English Literary critics of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries are, respectively, Johnson, Hazlitt and Empson, "not least because they are the funniest". Empson has been styled a "critic of genius" by Sir Frank Kermode, although the latter has lamented his lapses into what he regards as willfully perverse readings of certain authors, and the scholar and critic Harold Bloom has confessed that Empson is among a handful of critics who matter most to him, in particular, because of the force and eccentricity (Bloom's expression is "strangeness") of character as revealed in their critical work. The eccentricity or perversity of some of his interpretations, as well as Empson's rather blunt and brusque manner of dealing with criticism of his position, landed him a good deal of criticism both during his life and after his death, leading to his reputation in many circles as a "licensed buffoon" (Empson's own phrase).

just a smack at auden
Waiting for the end, boys, waiting for the end.
What is there to be or do?
What's become o... [read poem]
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