Darwin's bards : British and American poetry in the age of by John Holmes

By John Holmes

This paintings is a complete research of ways poets have replied to the tips of Charles Darwin within the a hundred and fifty years because the booklet of 'The starting place of Species'. Holmes argues that poetry could have a profound impression on how we expect and consider in regards to the Darwinian condition.

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The Archaeopteryx’s vision of the next great evolutionary leap forwards is inspiring. But, as the last lines of Morgan’s poem suggest, it is sciencefiction, not science. By putting these thoughts into the head of a nonhuman missing link, Morgan holds up a mirror to our myths of our own evolution. When Morgan wrote this poem in the late 1970s the dubious presumption that the dinosaurs might have died out not because of a — 32 — p o et ry i n th e a g e o f d a r wi n global catastrophe but because they were out-competed by little, warmblooded, dinosaur-egg-eating mammals was still current.

It is its tone too. Characteristically, Morgan enjoys playing with sounds in this poem. The play on eggs and Stegosaurs is an obvious and funny example, especially when the poem is read aloud. But there are more complex patterns too which have a subtler impact. As at the end of ‘Eohippus’, Morgan plays on the contrast between open and closed consonants. Here the closed consonants are repeatedly associated with the reptilian dinosaurs and with the Archaeopteryx’s own reptilian qualities, those ‘Damnable plates and plaques’.

Frost too shared this commitment to lucidity, if not transparency, in poetry, as did Millay. Given their shared sense of the demands of modern poetry, it is less surprising than it might seem that Hardy, Frost, Jeffers and Millay were linked too by their admiration for one another. Frost called Hardy ‘an excellent poet and the greatest living novelist’ in England and ‘one of the most earthly wise of our time’ (Frost 1965: 104, 147). For all their differences, Frost and Jeffers came to see each other as rural and regional allies against the urban, cosmopolitan modernists led by Eliot and Pound (Norwood 1995).

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