'Dark Lyrics': Studying the Subterranean Impulses of Contemporary Poetry.
Robles, Jaime Carla
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
To enable publication of the thesis
This thesis is composed of two parts: Hoard, a collection of poems, and Dark Lyrics: Studying the Subterranean Impulses of Contemporary Poetry, an inquiry into the metaphor of darkness in late twentieth- and early twenty-first-century Anglophone poetry. Hoard includes four series of poems – ‘Red Boat’, ‘Hoxne’, ‘Quatrefoils’ and ‘White Swan’ – which use the Hoxne hoard as a metaphor for lost love. The second series is titled ‘Foundlings’, and is based on archival tokens from children who were abandoned to London’s Foundling Hospital in the mid-eighteenth century. The third series includes ‘Elegy’ and ‘Decorations’, and uses descriptions of the Staffordshire hoard along with eyewitness accounts of global conflict in the late-twentieth century to the present day. Dark Lyrics: Studying the Subterranean Impulses of Contemporary Poetry examines the theme of loss presented in the poems Hoard, progressing from orphans to silenced women to bereavement to war to ecological disaster. The book is a series of mediations of a central topic and includes close readings that show how an individual contemporary writer uses the topic within his or her work. Meditation One posits that forms of loss appear in poetry as metaphors of darkness, and proceeds historically through the work of Dante, Shakespeare and Elizabeth Bishop and Charles Wright; the chapter ends with a close reading of John Burnside’s prose poem ‘Annunciations’ (Common Knowledge). Meditation Two looks at the mythological uses of the concept of darkness, especially as it represents ego loss, and discusses Joan Retallack’s ‘Afterrimages’; the chapter closes with a discussion of Rusty Morrison’s Whethering and when the true keeps calm biding its story. Meditation Three looks at the emotions of lost love, both familial and romantic, and includes a discussion of Martha Nussbaum’s theory of emotions and ethics. The chapter includes close readings of Elizabeth Robinson’s The orphan and its relations and Susan Howe’s That This. Meditation Four discusses the pain caused by war and the form of my long poem ‘Decorations’; it includes an examination of Seamus Heaney’s North. The chapter concludes with an essay on Maxine Chernoff’s book Without. Meditation Five discusses objects and how they become a part of the body and therefore become a potential locus for both pain and loss; the chapter closes with a close reading of Brenda Coultas’ The Handmade Museum. The themes and ideas are reiterated in the Conclusion.
PhD in English