Poetry & Money: A Speculation is a study of relationships between poets, poetry, and money from Chaucer to contemporary times. It begins by showing how trust is essential to the creation of value in human exchange, and how money can, depending on conditions, both enable and disable such trustfully collaborative generations of value. Drawing upon a vast range of poetry for its exemplifications, the book includes studies of poetic hardship, religious verse and debt redeeming, the South Sea Bubble and the economic revolution, debates over metallic and paper currency in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as well as modernist struggles with the gold standard, depression, inflation, and the realised groundlessness of exchange value.
With its practitioner’s attention to the minutiae of poetic technique, it considers analogies between words and coins, and between poetic rhythm and the circulation of currencies in an economy. Through its close readings of poems over many centuries directly or indirectly engaged with money, it proposes ways in which, while we cannot escape monetary economies, we can resist, to some extent, being ensnared and diminished by them – through a fresh understanding of values money may serve to enable, but ones which are nevertheless beyond price.
'To call this original book "rich" and "rewarding" (and I do) is only to demonstrate the extent to which money and its metaphors permeate areas of cultural value and valuation. Examining those metaphors is essentially the method of this study, though Robinson never forgets that artworks assert their value in unique, if compromised, ways. Robinson transacts an enviable sweep across the poetries of several centuries and cultures, using his deep and wide knowledge of poetry. Expect some fine archival research, as well as novel and exciting close readings of some canonical and less canonical figures.'
Robert Sheppard, Emeritus Professor of Poetry and Poetics, Edge Hill University