There must be something to what I wrote yesterday, because my first impulse, from the moment I posted it, has been to question & oppose it.
You could argue that the true tradition of America is just this originary, rebellious, antinomian, independent, ornery-individualist vision, the 1st principle of which - a sacred vocation - is to exercise the right to make everything new, to re-invent the wheel - starting here and now.
You could also argue that the "rebellious" poets (the oppositionalists, the marginalists, the isolatos, the aesthetes, the avant-gardists, the bohemians, etc.) are not ignorant of history & tradition - but they know it from underneath, from an angle of vision from which the sanctioned, established, canonized Works of Culture reveal themselves to be inadequate & false.
You could also argue that aesthetic vision/artistic capability is natural in a way that opposes and transgresses - because it is essentially alive - all those crystallized cultural forms and collective (artificial) compromises which go by the name "traditions".
The dialectical and agonistic scenario sketched out here is indeed the dominant image of the artist and poet which contemporary American culture reflects and projects. Emerson is its source, and Romanticism generally.
But what I'm suggesting (in previous post) is the possibility of recognizing a different image of the poet : something you also find in Whitman, as well as in poets like Shakespeare, Auden, some of the Victorians, some of the Restoration poets, Pushkin... The quality inherent in this image, what I'm trying to get at, is something like "geniality" or "equanimity" : the willingness and ability to synthesize opposing viewpoints : to analyze and judge things without totally dismissing or rejecting them : to see things in their fulness and roundedness : to criticize and challenge society, to condemn human folly, without turning such criticism into an egotistical platform for self-apotheosis : to respond to the traditions and history of one's culture and re-make them, without chasing after novelties or pretentious experimentation : etc.