Grecian Urns and Tin Watermelons: Lyric, Truth and Beauty, with reference to Mark Doty, and comparisons with Philip Larkin

Daniels, Peter. 2021. Grecian Urns and Tin Watermelons: Lyric, Truth and Beauty, with reference to Mark Doty, and comparisons with Philip Larkin. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Romantic poets such as Keats established lyric as poetry of the self and its apprehension of truth and beauty. These qualities were later questioned by modernists and postmodernists; they discouraged grand abstractions and complicated the position of the self, and the poetic category of lyric. I argue that despite this, the lyric self – embodied in the poem as performative act – remains an expression of the poet’s experiencing self, and together they form a three-way relationship with the reader. In my commentary, I begin by outlining my development as a queer Quaker poet, and affirm the role and significance of truth and beauty as key factors in my lyric poems. In chapters 2 and 3, I discuss the language and performativity of the lyric self, drawing on the poetry of Mark Doty and Philip Larkin, and works of lyric theory such as those by Jonathan Culler, Virginia Jackson and Yopie Prins, and Marion Thain. In chapter 4 I discuss how metaphor and metonymy rely on both difference and similarity for performative verbal description, which is rooted in the subjectivity of the lyric self. In chapter 5 I examine the performativity of the lyric and the queer self, and how queerness is a ‘making strange’ that can renew the power of truth and beauty. The queer angle to the heteronormative combines the irony of camp with the seriousness of fetish; it may also have a spiritual dimension. In chapter 6 I contemplate the truths of time and death, which are the limits of queer questioning. Lives have arbitrary beginnings and ends but aesthetic shaping gives meaning and drives the association of beauty and death. The poem will always have an ending, a paradigm of form givingmeaning to time, conveying an experience of truth and beauty.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.25602/GOLD.00030504

Keywords:

Lyric, Truth, Beauty, Mark Doty, Philip Larkin, Metonym, Queerness, Quakerism

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature

Date:

31 August 2021

Item ID:

30504

Date Deposited:

13 Sep 2021 13:30

Last Modified:

14 Sep 2021 17:13

URI:

https://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/30504

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