Greening The Lyre
Environmental Poetics And Ethics
Publication Year: 2002
Published by: University of Nevada Press
Greening the Lyre
I am grateful beyond words for the generosity and patience of my mentors and teachers, including Janet Desimone, Steve Masley, Robbie Thomas, Richard Hawley, Cleopatra Mathis, Patricia Goedicke, Paul Armstrong, Bill Rossi, Jim Crosswhite, and John Gage. The debt, which I struggle to repay in and out of the classroom, endures.
The subject of this study is contemporary nature poetry. It should be noted, from the start, that all three of these terms are potential troublemakers. For example, the contemporary nature poem might simply refer to nature poetry published relatively recently. However, this kind of definition ignores the more athletic sense of contemporaneity, the idea that the poetry of a given era (here, the most ...
Chapter 1. Toward a Rhetoric of Ecological Poetics
Like all titles, “Toward a Rhetoric of Ecological Poetics” functions, to use Kenneth Burke’s formula, as both goal and goad.1 To avoid unnecessary confusion at the outset, my first step will be to clarify these titular terms. I will then turn to the “ecological” poem against the background of scientific and normative ecology. My reading will pay particular attention to the hermeneutic premises that inform the ...
Chapter 2. Green Speech: The Trope of Speaking Nature
To the contemporary reader, the idea of a talking seed may seem a quaint, perhaps charming aspect of this diminutive poem by William Stafford. As an example of “speaking nature,” the voice of Stafford’s “little seed” is but one in the great chorus of nonhuman voices to be found in poetry. The trope of speaking nature, as I shall refer to it, is ...
Chapter 3. Ethos and Environmental Ethics
As noted in the preceding chapter, the subject of nature has emerged as a site of contention in the discourse of environmental ethics. Catriona Sandilands has argued that the subject of nature has generally been constructed according to the logic of identity politics advanced by progressive social movements. The conception of democracy embraced by these movements generates a subject that is ...
Chapter 4. Pragmatic Environmental Poetics
I would like to ask this cheeky question as a way of posing, roundabout, a more general and knotty one: besides the date of composition, what is “contemporary” about the contemporary nature poem? The question is triggered, in the first instance, by the recent proliferation of anthologies of “contemporary nature poetry.” It is provoked, too, by what I see as the challenge of writing nature poetry in ...
Chapter 5. Skeptical Environmental Poetics
Late in the day, the hikers arrest their excursion up the mountain, in part due to fatigue, in part due to the hour and their sense of the long and rough trip back. Their stopping place is one of those zones that Frost so often explored: the margin between human cultivation and something wilder, something different. It is delineated by “a tumbled wall /With barbed-wire binding,” the kind of barrier one often ...
Afterword: Politics and Environmental Poetics
When I began this study, my office was on the second floor of the tallest building on the University of Oregon campus, a structure that also houses the departments of English, history, sociology, philosophy, economics, and comparative literature, as well as the Humanities Center. If I climbed to the seventh floor and looked through the windows of a seminar room that was usually unlocked, I was often ...