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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Bridge force : poems with an introduction Davey, Frankland Wilmot

Abstract

In this thesis I present forty-seven thematically interwoven original poems with my own explanatory introduction. In the introduction I attempt to illuminate the poems’ concerns and techniques by relating them to the concerns, resources, and theories of both traditional and contemporary English-speaking poets. The poems represent a combination of Romantic personal and social interest with Renaissance technical and aesthetic interest. My form, free verse constructed on linguistic principles, I have chosen because of the flexibility it provides for creating decorative and natural patterns. I find its rhythms quite similar to those of many passages in Shakespeare's later plays and to those of the emotion-filled early poems of Matthew Arnold. My free verse is not undisciplined; its form is linguistically justifiable, its rhyme-schemes have been specially created to meet the demands of this form, and its syntax is based on the rhetorical theories of the beauty-conscious English Renaissance. That rhetoric, essentially the use of repeated syntactic and sonic patterns, can aid poetic expression seems evident from the works of Shakespeare and Ezra Pound. Rhetorical figures are really types of "rime" (in the sense in which the American poet Robert Duncan uses the word); that is, rhetoric is a kind of significant repetition similar to the cycle of the seasons. Thus the figures of rhetoric tend to give "natural" form to a poem that makes it meaningful to a reader already acquainted with the works of nature. Robert Duncan's theory that natural rime is any recognizable similarity or dissimilarity in two parallel elements of a poem or group of poems, as well as serving to illuminate the use of rhetoric, leads to the creation of rimes of theme to achieve unity of poetic vision. Rimes of theme are the means by which Eliot unifies The Waste Land, by which Yeats unifies his mythological and visionary poems, and by which I attempt to unify this collection. Use of rimes of theme, in both Eliot and Yeats, results in the juxtaposing of centuries, and so, in a sense, in the elimination of time. Timelessness, of course, is an appropriate theme to me, since my aesthetic interest implies a desire to create timeless beauty. However, I do not think that I can ever be justly accused of "pure aestheticism." As long as my wish to create beauty is paralleled by a thematic interest in the timeless qualities of human existence (as in the poetry of Wallace Stevens or Robert Duncan), the structural beauty created will be definitely functional. Rather than leading to euphuistic decadence, my interest in technique is likely to give me new themes; especially rich in thematic possibility is the as-yet-unexplored self-conscious poem. For, to me, the most significant aspect of a poem is the process of its writing, and it will be only through constant examination of this process that I will come nearer to creating what I wish to create—a thematically unified body of work that will represent to the reader the timeless in both human existence and poetic beauty.

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