"From Musaeus to Parnassus: Poetry, Modernity and Method in the Seventeenth Century"
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The narrative of a “new” mindset that dispenses with the mythopoetic in favor of the intellect is a foundational myth of modernity. Perhaps that is not surprising, given the powerful constitutive role which moderns attribute to the other; the “poetic,” perennially cast as the other of the modern, exercises its greatest generative force --the force of poiesis, with which the terms poesía and poema are associated in so many treatises-- within the modern imagination. This essay focuses on iterations of the modern origin story as I trace the stages by which primordial powers associated with poetry are deployed to anchor a “new” modernity in Spain and the Americas. I will also demonstrate that by the late baroque, poetry loses that power as modern institutions gain primacy over poetic energies. It is my contention here that for late-sixteenth and early seventeenth-century writers, the narrative of poetry’s subordination exercised a certain kind of daemonic force that was drawn from associations with prophecy and the divine that were invoked as much as they were suppressed, subordinated or excluded in their accounts.