Cover for NELSON: The Wound and the Dream: Sixty Years of American Poems about the Spanish Civil War

The Wound and the Dream

Sixty Years of American Poems about the Spanish Civil War

When the United States and other powers declined to help fight fascist power at the onset of the Spanish Civil War, forty thousand private citizens from fifty–two countries rallied to join the International Brigade's defense of the Spanish Republic. Born out of the struggle between fascism and democracy and considered the first battle of World War II, the Spanish Civil War holds tremendous ideological significance and has inspired a remarkable range of American poetry.

The Wound and the Dream represents the sixty-year tradition of American poetic responses to the Spanish Civil War and provides an overview of progressive American poetry as a whole. Four of the featured poets–-Alvah Bessie, William Lindsay Gresham, James Neugass, and Edwin Rolfe–-were members of the International Brigade. Their poetry appears alongside lesser–known works by some of the greatest American poets of the twentieth century, including Wallace Stevens, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Randall Jarrell, Langston Hughes, and Philip Levine. Cary Nelson's introduction discusses the collective nature of the poems, puts them in their international context, and provides a sturdy framework for interpreting the Spanish Civil War as a historical conjecture that has dramatically altered the ways we read and write poetry. The book also includes a brief biography of each poet and a glossary of related terms.


“A breathtaking collection of U.S. poetry responding to the Spanish Civil War that will surely attract international attention. Not only does Nelson bring forgotten voices back into our consciousness, but he also reaches out and demonstrates the impact on writers not normally associated with ‘the last great cause.’”--Alan Wald, author of Exiles from a Future Time: The Forging of the Mid-Twentieth-Century Literary Left


Cary Nelson, Jubilee Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is the editor of the Oxford Anthology of Modern American Poetry. He has published several books on the Spanish Civil War, including a collection of letters.

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