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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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Humans and Other Animals

Humans and Other Animals

(p.154) 6 Humans and Other Animals
Darwin's Bards

John Holmes

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter focuses on three types of animal that have played particular symbolic roles in poetry since Charles Darwin. In birds of prey, Robinson Jeffers, Ted Hughes, Richard Eberhart and others have discerned a symbol of the deliberate violence of nature after Darwin. Through songbirds, George Meredith, Thomas Hardy, Robert Frost and Amy Clampitt have articulated post-Romantic Darwinian visions of nature to set against Percy Bysshe Shelley's ‘To a Skylark’ and John Keats' ‘Ode to a Nightingale’. Through encounters with deer, Hardy, Frost and others have explored the divide between humans and wild animals and the yearning to cross it. Eberhart gives the impression of time as a perspective in his poem. Like Millay, Frost is less ready than Meredith or even Hardy to believe that there is really scope for the barrier between humans and other animals to be broken down.

Keywords:   Robinson Jeffers, Ted Hughes, Richard Eberhart, George Meredith, Thomas Hardy, Robert Frost, Amy Clampitt, birds, songbirds, deer

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