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Darwin's BardsBritish and American Poetry in the Age of Evolution$
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John Holmes

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780748639403

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748639403.001.0001

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Humanity's Place in Nature

Humanity's Place in Nature

(p.130) 5 Humanity's Place in Nature
Darwin's Bards

John Holmes

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter investigates how Darwinism alters the perception of humanity's place in the universe. It addresses how a number of Victorian poets responded to the decentring of humanity, before homing in on Robinson Jeffers, in particular on his poem ‘Night’. It then addresses the poems by A. R. Ammons, Philip Appleman and Robert Pack, who extrapolate from a Darwinian world view towards an environmental ethic on the one hand and the humane solidarity epitomised by Thomas Hardy in ‘The Plaint to Man’ on the other. Jeffers' use of alliteration and assonance is subtly suggestive throughout his poem. Appleman's poem is a joyful incitement to love one another. His poem is a tonic, a jubilant affirmation of humanity's due importance to ourselves, even in the void. Few things could be further from Jeffers' Inhumanism, with its desire for human extinction, yet they share the same roots.

Keywords:   humanity, A. R. Ammons, Philip Appleman, Robert Pack, Thomas Hardy, Robinson Jeffers, Inhumanism

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