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Title: A genealogy of poetry : elegies for poets since 1939
Author: Connolly, S.
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2007
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Many of the most enduring and influential elegies are those written in memory of other poets. Elegies for poets have always served a fascinating range of both private and public functions. This thesis establishes some of the forms taken and functions served by elegies for poets since W. H. Auden's landmark elegy "In Memory of W. B. Yeats" (1939) to the present day. Such poems are Janus-faced, simultaneously casting back into the past and projecting into the future. Although often radical in form and critical in tone, twentieth-century elegies for poets are also deeply concerned with tradition, and frequently seem to act as a synecdoche of the entire poetic canon, transmitting the legacy of the dead poet to a new generation of poets. This thesis examines the figuration of the dead poet in relation to the literary and political contexts of both elegist and elegized, defines the extent to which elegies for poets crystallize the processes of poetic inheritance, and tests how the elegiac relationship between a precursor and their successor (as in the case of W. B. Yeats and W. H. Auden) differs from the dynamic which may exist between contemporaries (as in the case of John Berryman and Robert Lowell). Such poems form a chain of commemoration and inheritance. Each link is independent and can be taken in isolation, but when seen as part of the chain, it signifies a larger purpose and has a correspondingly greater strength. Finally, by focusing on these elegies as crucial moments of both celebration and usurpation, this thesis demonstrates that one can trace a kind of genealogy of poetry through what Helen Vendler has described as the "golden links of elegy.".
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available