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Goldsmiths - University of London

Hold Your Breath: fifty poems and Louis MacNeice - warm from the ear of a ghost: His final poems: impure poetry and the BBC

Farmer, Rebecca. 2017. Hold Your Breath: fifty poems and Louis MacNeice - warm from the ear of a ghost: His final poems: impure poetry and the BBC. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis presents, in Part One, fifty poems in an unpublished collection entitled Hold Your Breath and, in Part Two, close readings of four poems published in Louis MacNeice’s final collection The Burning Perch.

The introduction to Part Two provides a detailed analysis of particular aspects of MacNeice’s life and work that have informed the close readings of his poems, with special attention to his work in radio. This study of poems from his final collection will establish that, far from being detrimental as some commentators have argued, his radio work at the BBC had a positive influence on his poetry. Rather than acting in opposition, his work at the BBC and his writing of poetry benefited creatively from each other. By resisting any temptation to ‘pigeon-hole’ his work, and reading the poems with reference to the wider contexts in which he wrote, it is possible to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of MacNeice’s work and his ability to extend boundaries. The readings are a personal response which recognises what MacNeice himself would have regarded as the ‘impure’ nature of the poems.

The title of the collection could serve as the title for both parts of the thesis, as it can be taken to express both an awareness of the fragility of life and the sense of excitement and anticipation that such an awareness brings to living. In essence it is this awareness that is explored in both the collection and the commentary.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.25602/GOLD.00020519

Keywords:

Poetry, Louis MacNeice, BBC Radio, Impure poetry

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature

Date:

30 April 2017

Item ID:

20519

Date Deposited:

30 May 2017 11:42

Last Modified:

11 Jul 2018 04:36

URI: http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/20519

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