Poems—specifically romantic poems, such as those by Thomas Gray, William Wordsworth, and John Keats—link what goes unremembered in our reading to ethics. In "Tintern Abbey," for example, Wordsworth finds in "little . . . unremembered . . . acts" the chance to hear the "still, sad music of humanity."
In The Poetics of Unremembered Acts, Brian McGrath shows that poetry’s capacity to address its reader stages an ethical dilemma of continued importance. Situating romantic poems in relation to Enlightenment debate over how to teach reading, specifically debate about the role of poetry in the process of learning to read, The Poetics of Unremembered Acts develops an alternative understanding of poetry’s role in education. McGrath also explores the ways poetry makes ethics possible through its capacity to pass along what we do not remember and cannot know about our reading.