The Secret Problem : Ersatz Wild & Crazy
What is the Secret Problem of America, which, like a tumbling domino, creates the Secret Problem of American Poetry?
The Secret Problem of America is that Americans try too hard to be wild & crazy.
(Evidence? I mean, check the 2006 Winter Olympics, OK?)
The British, their forefathers, have known this for centuries, but they're too polite & perfidious to say anything. The Brits understand themselves : they are not wild & crazy, not at all. That's why they developed their charming, Japanese-garden-variety eccentricities. (Prince Charles, intently observing the behaviour of an hedgehog, and so forth.)
Because Americans try so hard to be wild & crazy, the slimy money-grubbing culture-creeps have learned how to turn this foible into a fast buck (hence, U.S. pop culture).
How do I know this? I have 1) so much Irish in me; and 2) some certified Whack in the family.
Hence my admiration for the Irish, and my genuine love for the Russians.
They don't have to try so hard; it comes naturally.
I won't get into this here, but this explains most of the serious weaknesses of contemporary American poetry.
It's time we got back to Longfellow : he, at least, had some knowledge of Finnish metrics & French-Canadian history. He was like the best Americans : a cosmopolitan, polyglot oddball.