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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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On Balance

On Balance

(p.226) 8 On Balance
Darwin's Bards

John Holmes

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter starts by discussing how Robert Frost, A. R. Ammons and Pattiann Rogers expressly weigh up the Darwinian condition. Next, it examines how Thomas Hardy, Amy Clampitt and Thom Gunn use poetry itself to revive the sense of enchantment seemingly worn away by Darwin's materialist view of nature. Moreover, it considers George Meredith's ‘Ode to the Spirit of Earth in Autumn’ and Alfred Lord Tennyson's ‘Lucretius’. Rogers' poem stands as a testimony to her own love of nature, warm seeth and all. Clampitt takes Hardy's concept of poetry as a paradoxical space in which contradictory truths may exist alongside one another to a new level of paradox. Tennyson approaches Darwinism as an objective poet, Meredith as a subjective poet. Tennyson's poem poses a moral and psychological challenge to its Darwinian readers, who must either dispute his assessment of Darwinism or despair.

Keywords:   Robert Frost, A. R. Ammons, Pattiann Rogers, Thomas Hardy, Amy Clampitt, Thom Gunn, George Meredith, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Lucretius

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