Fallen Love: Eros and Ta’wīl in the Poetry of Robert Duncan
Abstract

Abstract:

This article examines Robert Duncan’s erotic poetics in the context of his interest in an elite “Spirit of Romance” and “Cult of Eros” that he recognizes in Lucius Apuleius, the Provençal troubadours, Dante and the Fedeli d’amore, as well as in his modernist forbears, particularly Ezra Pound, who coined the term “the Spirit of Romance.” In his explication of this tradition, Duncan has drawn on the ideas of the religious scholar Henry Corbin, particularly his work on the “Visionary Recitals” — the spiritual autobiographies and commentaries associated with the thirteenth-century Persian philosopher Avicenna. Focusing on Corbin’s notion of ta’wīl, a method of textual exegesis that forms the keystone of his work on Arabic religious esotericism, this article examines the typo-logical affinities that Corbin’s scholarship shares with Duncan’s erotic poetics. Via close readings of Duncan’s poems “Poem Beginning with a Line by Pindar,” “The Torso,” and “Circulations of the Song,” this article argues that Corbin’s work provides a pertinent corollary to Duncan’s erotic poetics.