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Countless Cross-Fertilizations: Gary Snyder as a Post-Romantic Poet

TOVEY, PAIGE,ELAINE (2011) Countless Cross-Fertilizations: Gary Snyder as a Post-Romantic Poet. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis examines Romantic (including American Transcendentalist) legacies in the poetry of Gary Snyder. It traces connections and conversations between Snyder and his Romantic predecessors, especially Wordsworth, Blake, Shelley, Emerson and Thoreau, and it seeks to demonstrate the workings of what Snyder himself calls “cross-fertilizations.” Snyder’s understanding of cultural influence is based on the Buddhist concept of interconnection. My thesis applies Snyder’s recurrent theme of interconnection and interdependence to his own relationship with Romantic visions, ideas and forms. Through examining Snyder’s poetic achievements in the light of the Romantic tradition, the thesis attempts to deepen current understanding of his work by suggesting that he should be considered not only as an ecological, post-modern or Beat poet, but also and centrally as a post-Romantic writer.
My thesis is structured upon four main, interlocking concerns: eco-Romanticism, the Romantic poet as visionary and prophet, Romantic poetic form, and mountains and rivers as holistic Romantic emblems. It covers a wide range of Snyder’s poetry and prose from across his career in relation to these concerns. The first two chapters, centred on eco-Romanticism, address Snyder’s ecological inheritance from the Romantics; they examine the British Romantic pastoral tradition alongside Snyder’s contemporary eco-Romantic verse. Chapters Three and Four build on the poet’s sense of necessary individuality by focusing on the Romantic role of the poet as prophet in Snyder’s work. They trace the notion inherited from Romanticism of the poet who is conflicted by divergent roles: isolated visionary seer, on the one hand, and the prophetic poet whose role is to speak to and for society, on the other. In my chapters (Five and Six) on the forms through which the post-Romantic poet expresses his vision, I take as my point of departure Shelley’s assertion, from A Defence of Poetry, that “every great poet must inevitably innovate upon the example of his predecessors in the exact structure of his peculiar versification,” and I examine how Snyder’s “peculiar versification” follows and yet innovates upon the tradition of experimental and unconventional form set forth by his Romantic predecessors in such seminal works as Lyrical Ballads. In my final two chapters, I bring the thesis to a close by focusing on Snyder’s use of two Romantic emblems, mountains and rivers, as dialectical, interdependent elements of nature. Responding to their interaction, Snyder renews Romantic modes of representing the universe and the mind. The thesis draws on other American poets (including Williams, Pound and Stevens) in studying how a major American poet has shaped his art, meanings and identity out of a Romantic and post-Romantic poetic and cultural tradition.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Gary Snyder; Romanticism; poetry; Romantic legacies; open form poetics; Wordsworth; Coleridge; Blake; Shelley; Keats; William Carlos Williams; T. S. Eliot; Ezra Pound; Wallace Stevens
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:2011
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:05 Apr 2011 15:18

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