Chapter

Summation and Chthonic Power

John Peck

in At the Barriers

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780226890432
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226890371 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226890371.003.0011
Summation and Chthonic Power

More Like This

Show all results sharing this subject:

  • Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

GO

Show Summary Details

Preview

Summation is powerful and mature statement, but as an organizing principle for poetry in English it has regained, long after the modernist detours around it, at best an intricately defended, half-confident status. To modify a phrase from a late poem by Wallace Stevens in “The Course of a Particular,” there is a resistance involved. Thom Gunn excelled in skillfully neutralizing that resistance from the outset of his career. As for chthonic power, that phrase represents something common in literary thinking since writers began to reassess Romanticism in the wake of the depth psychologies and the ongoing demolition of traditional metaphysics. Gunn hardly walked in fear of the category, though it seems that he never employed it. His flexible style is one of the most conceptually discerning in the twentieth century, and also one of the most mature in exploring the adventures of instinct (“adventure,” a term he takes from Robert Duncan). The two terms in the title to this chapter, especially given Gunn's experience with hallucinogens, point to several dimensions.

Keywords: summation; chthonic power; Thom Gunn; poetry; speech rhythms; open forms; experimental styles

Chapter.  18540 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.