Vernon Watkins and Kierkegaard : "the poetry of eternity"

Somerton, Elizabeth M. (1988) Vernon Watkins and Kierkegaard : "the poetry of eternity". Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

This thesis examines Vernon Watkins's affinity for Søren Kierkegaard and the light it sheds on Watkins's poetic theory and practice. The Introduction documents Watkins's intensive knowledge of Kierkegaard's works in support of the argument that his thought is either straightforwardly Kierkegaardian, or involves an application to poetry of Kierkegaard's metaphors for Christianity. To establish the basis of Watkins's "belief" in an eternity to which both poetry and Christianity belong, the first chapter explores Watkins's theory that every "serious poet" experiences "a pivotal crisis in time" similar to the one which led to his recovery from the severe mental breakdown he suffered at age twenty-one and equivalent, it becomes clear from his prose, to the Kierkegaardian Christian "conversion," the significance of which is described in Kierkegaard's metaphor of the "Archimedean point." -- The bulk of the thesis is extended analysis of a selection of Watkins's poems emphasizing the Watkins/Kierkegaard affinity, with references to Kierkegaard's works as these elucidate Watkins's concerns. The thrust of the discussion, then, is thematic, and comments on Watkins's technique are limited. Chapters two and three consist of detailed analysis of the Kierkegaardian notion of "eternal moments" and the metaphors describing them in a selection that includes two "core" poems in the Watkins canon. Chapter four focuses on Watkins's literal application to poetry of Kierkegaard's "Paradox" and "poetry of eternity" metaphors for Christianity. Watkins's notion that the poet is "a liberating god," identifiable with Christ as the "mediator" of a poetic Christian eternity, is documented by statements concerned with it in his prose and poetry and by analysis of his poem "Egyptian Burial: Resurrection in Wales" where the theory is seen in practice. -- The Conclusion relates Watkins's Kierkegaardian metaphysic of "inwardness or subjectivity" and his exclusive concern with "the poetry of eternity" to the predominant complaint in Watkins criticism - that Watkins does not ground his poems in the physical or everyday world - and to his reputation as an "obscure" poet.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/5469
Item ID: 5469
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 141-149.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > English Language and Literature
Date: 1988
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Watkins, Vernon Phillips, 1906-1967--Criticism and interpretation; Kierkegaard, Soren, 1813-1855

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