Shades of Authority

BookShades of Authority

Shades of Authority

The Poetry of Lowell, Hill and Heaney

Liverpool English Texts and Studies, 50


October 1st, 2007

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What is the relationship between poetry and power? Should poetry be considered a mode of authority or an impotent medium? And why is it that the modern poets most commonly regarded as authoritative are precisely those whose works wrestle with a sense of artistic inadequacy? Such questions lie at the heart of this study, prompting fresh insights into three of the most important poets of recent decades: Robert Lowell, Geoffrey Hill and Seamus Heaney. Through attentive close reading and the tracing of dominant motifs in each writer’s works, James shows how their responsiveness to matters of political and cultural import lends weight to the idea of poetry as authoritative utterance, as a medium for speaking of and to the world in a persuasive, memorable manner. And yet, as James demonstrates, each poet is exercised by an awareness of his own cultural marginality, even by a sense of the limitations and liabilities of language itself.

Author Information

Stephen James is lecturer in English literature at the University of Bristol.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Title Page3
Notes on Citations13
Essays on Robert Lowell21
The Burden of Power23
The Poet and the Tyrant43
Violence and Idealism60
Essays on Geoffrey Hill77
Authority and Eccentricity79
Prevailing Tastes96
A Conflict of Opposites120
Essays on Seamus Heaney139
The Sway of Language141
Mutable Redress160
Commanding Voices181