Award Date

May 2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Committee Member

Donald Revell

Second Committee Member

Claudia Keelan

Third Committee Member

Emily Setina

Fourth Committee Member

Michael Pravica

Number of Pages

209

Abstract

Synonyms are the key to understanding Robinson Jeffers’s poetry and his philosophy of inhumanism. Reality, nature, and God are words Jeffers uses to communicate monistic feelings. These words are difficult to define on their own. When used interchangeably by the poet, a sense of oneness with the universe is generated in the reader. This is how Jeffers gives value to the natural world, and his environmental ethic is inextricably tangled up with the numinous as much as the real. A belief in immanence, or that God is present in the material world, guides Jeffers’s philosophy of inhumanism. Reality becomes the ultimate, obvious, and undeniable proof not only of God, but the sanctity of nature. His poetry, when read alongside the Meditations of Roman Stoic philosopher and emperor Marcus Aurelius, takes on an even richer Classical tone in thought and ethos. His first three narrative poems—Tamar, Roan Stallion and The Tower Beyond Tragedy—reveal a poet who is considering that most of the big words in English—nature, reality, God, beauty, truth—might mean the same thing. It is this reductionism of language, both mythopoetic and naturalistic, that makes his work the strange chimera of religio-scientific poetics that it is. The poetry is ecological, but it is also cosmological, and with this equation Jeffers created some of the most profoundly wild and spiritual language of the Modernist era.

Disciplines

Arts and Humanities

Language

English


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