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Title:Self-Referential Anxiety in the Romantic and Modern Long Poem
Author(s):Daubs, James Daniel
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Modern
Literature, American
Literature, English
Abstract:Many of the long poems on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries are characterized by a pronounced self-referential anxiety on the part of their narrators; representatives of this group of poems are Wordsworth's Prelude, William Carlos Williams' Paterson, and Adrienne Rich's "From an Old House in America" and Sources, though much the same anxiety can be seen in long poems by such diverse poets as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Browning, Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, Elizabeth Bishop, and John Berryman. In works by each of these poets, the author's insecurities about the poem's form and subject matter and about the appropriate role of the poet are articulated through the character of the "poet-figure," the symbolic representation of the poetic self in the poem.
Wordsworth's Prelude occupies a special place in literary history as the first poem to valorize poetic self-absorption as a fit subject for poetry, and Wordsworth serves as a precursor to and a major influence upon both Williams and Rich. Besides the reliance upon the poet-figure, who without exception bears a strong biographical resemblance to the poet himself or herself, the three poets share many other characteristics, the most important of which are a preoccupation with place and the inclusion in the poem of a clearly identifiable "other." The other--the common people in Wordsworth, the working classes in Williams, and the male in Rich--serves in the poem as the enemy of poetry, incapable of understanding and appreciating the poet's work.
Wordsworth, Williams, and Rich all envision impossibly ambitious objectives for their long poems, objectives that clash with the often fragmentary forms of the poems themselves. In this sense, all of the poems fail, and their shortcomings are recorded, commented upon, and frequently elaborately rationalized by the poet-figures themselves.
Issue Date:1988
Description:149 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1988.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8815333
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1988

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