Fresh Woods

Bonnie Costello

in The Oxford Handbook of the Elegy

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199228133
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 Fresh Woods

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This article presents observations about elegy and ecology in twentieth-century poetry and remarks upon the endurance of both pastoral and elegy. It also shows that modern poetry has not given up ‘the pastoral contextualization of death’, but the pastoral is now also the very subject of mourning. Modern modifications to pastoral elegy are most evident in the lack of closure and consolation in the work of mourning, reflecting modern poetry's more general preference for exposure over resolution of problems. The examples of Elizabeth Bishop and Harpers Ferry can suffice to demonstrate the remarkable resilience of the pastoral elegy in modern poetry, and the rich ways in which it has been revised and updated for the modern imagination. The ecoelegy has provided a new turn in what poet Susan Howe has termed the ‘Elegiac Western Imagination’. Elegy is the record of a cycle broken, then repaired at some other level of renewal.

Keywords: pastoral elegy; ecology; ecoelegy; modern poetry; pastoral contextualization; mourning; Elizabeth Bishop; Harpers Ferry

Article.  9683 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (20th Century onwards) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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