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Tyranny and redress: The poetry of Robert Lowell, Geoffrey Hill and Seamus Heaney

James, Stephen; (1996) Tyranny and redress: The poetry of Robert Lowell, Geoffrey Hill and Seamus Heaney. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

My thesis is concerned with ways in which poems respond to and participate in acts of control. The opposition presented in the title - between abuse of authority and correction of injustice - indicates my thematic focus on the works of Robert Lowell, Geoffrey Hill and Seamus Heaney: I explore how each of them treats artistic expression as the manifestation of either violative or ameliorative impulses. The dissertation comprises four main chapters. In the first of these I detail the etymological connotations of the words 'tyranny' and 'redress'. I also analyse a range of twentieth-century poems which suggest links between state control and authorial control. My three subsequent chapters focus on the careers of Lowell, Hill and Heaney respectively. In Chapter Two I explore Lowell's preoccupation with the aggressive energies which he detects in society, in himself, and in poetic language. His work demonstrates some of the ways in which poetry can conspire in the abuses it warns against. The link between rhetorical and actual savagery is at the heart of Hill's concerns. In my third chapter, I show how, by being alive to the dangers of authoritarian artistry. Hill endeavours to overcome them in his poems. Heaney's verse is the subject of Chapter Four. I discuss the balance in his work between refractory and reparatory impulses. Whether facing up to or facing away from the political problems of his nation, Heaney, it is argued, advances a concept of poetry as a means of redressing callous words and deeds. A brief conclusion draws these three authors together by taking the work of the Russian poet Osip Mandelstam as a common point of convergence. I contend that for each of them Mandelstam serves as an exemplary figure of the writer who, through his art, offers a redress to tyranny.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Tyranny and redress: The poetry of Robert Lowell, Geoffrey Hill and Seamus Heaney
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Language, literature and linguistics; Heaney, Seamus; Hill, Geoffrey; Lowell, Robert
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10099918
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