Poetry of Mourning: The Modern Elegy from Hardy to Heaney

Overview

Called the "mother of beauty" by Wallace Stevens, death has been perhaps the favorite muse of modern poets. From Langston Hughes's lynch poems to Sylvia Plath's father elegies, modern poetry has tried to find a language of mourning in an age of mass death, religious doubt, and forgotten ritual. For this reason, Jahan Ramazani argues, the elegy, one of the most ancient of poetic genres, has remained one of the most vital to modern poets.

Through subtle readings of elegies, ...

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Overview

Called the "mother of beauty" by Wallace Stevens, death has been perhaps the favorite muse of modern poets. From Langston Hughes's lynch poems to Sylvia Plath's father elegies, modern poetry has tried to find a language of mourning in an age of mass death, religious doubt, and forgotten ritual. For this reason, Jahan Ramazani argues, the elegy, one of the most ancient of poetic genres, has remained one of the most vital to modern poets.

Through subtle readings of elegies, self-elegies, war poems, and the blues, Ramazani greatly enriches our critical understanding of a wide range of poets, including Thomas Hardy, Wilfred Owen, Wallace Stevens, Langston Hughes, W. H. Auden, Sylvia Plath, and Seamus Heaney. He also interprets the signal contributions to the American family elegy of Robert Lowell, Allen Ginsberg, Anne Sexton, John Berryman, Adrienne Rich, Michael Harper, and Amy Clampitt. Finally, he suggests analogies between the elegy and other kinds of contemporary mourning art--in particular, the AIDS Memorial Quilt and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Grounded in genre theory and in the psychoanalysis of mourning, Ramazani's readings also draw on various historical, formal, and feminist critical approaches. This book will be of interest to anyone concerned with the psychology of mourning or the history of modern poetry.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226703404
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/1994
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 436
  • Sales rank: 1,147,368
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


Jahan Ramazani is the Edgar F. Shannon Professor of English at the University of Virginia. His anthologies and books include A Transnational Poetics, winner of the Harry Levin Prize of the American Comparative Literature Association and also published by the University of Chicago Press.
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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
The Modern Elegy 1
Social Mourning and Poetic Mourning 10
Genre, High Modernism, Psychoanalysis 23
1 Thomas Hardy 33
Elegies for an Era: "By the Century's Deathbed" 36
Poems of 1912-13 and Other Elegies for Emma 47
2 Wilfred Owen 69
3 Wallace Stevens 87
Harmonium: Mockeries and Pathetic Fallacies 90
War Elegies 106
Self-Elegies: Making Alpha of Omega 119
4 Langston Hughes 135
African-American Elegy and the Blues 135
Blues Poems 143
Monologues on Mortality 158
Lynch Poems 167
5 W. H. Auden 176
Elegy and Imitation 176
Self-Elegies: "Now For Oblivion" 204
6 American Family Elegy I 216
Robert Lowell 226
John Berryman 241
Allen Ginsberg 247
Michael Harper 254
7 Sylvia Plath 262
"Daddy, I Have Had to Kill You" 266
Self-Elegies: The Art and Trade of Dying 283
8 American Family Elegy II 293
Anne Sexton 299
Adrienne Rich 310
Amy Clampitt 322
9 Seamus Heaney 334
Coda 361
Notes 367
Index 405
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