The Embodied Poet in the Work of Emerson, Whitman, and Hesiod
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CitationHensley, Kathleen D. 2016. The Embodied Poet in the Work of Emerson, Whitman, and Hesiod. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
AbstractThis thesis examines Ralph Waldo Emerson’s lecture and essay version of “The Poet;” Walt Whitman’s Preface to his 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass and poem “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry;” and Hesiod’s Theogony. The beginning concept for this thesis was to examine the three authors’ versions of the poet’s role and display their agreement that the poet is an archaeologist of language, which is fossil poetry. Early in his career as lecturer and essayist, Emerson discusses the value and import of the poet in society and culture, which was a concept that Whitman literally heard and responded to. The poet’s importance can be traced back to the era of Ancient Greece, specifically Hesiod, who sang the song of the Muses. Through his singing their song, he was instilled with the gift and power of truth, and also became a guardian of their legend. He was, in essence, a historian. Through a deep textual analysis of these three poets, I was able to define an important causeway drawn between the classic Ancient Greek and the two American Romantics. Through this technique of pure observation with some evidential support, it became apparent that poets are transcribers of nature, history, begetters of symbology, and undertakers of a deeply primordial truth. They are guides out of the chaotic darkness from which all are born.
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