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|Title:||Figures of Mind in the Poetry ofW.B. Yeats and Wallace Stevens|
|Advisor:||John, Dr. Brian|
|Abstract:||This study examines representations of thinking and consciousness in the poetry of W.B. Yeats and Wallace Stevens. In discussing the processes of thinking in poetry, I have borrowed Ian Fletcher's term "noetics" which "names the field and the precise activity occurring when the poet introduces thought as a discriminable dimension of the form and meaning of the poem" (3-4). I have further sub-divided Fletcher's term into "noetics of form" and "noetics of figure" the first exploring the dominant modes of thinking which the poems imitate, the latter examining the images which are consistently used to represent consciousness and/or processes of thinking. In many ways, this study takes as its premise Stevens' theory of the poetic imagination as either ''marginal" or "central." I explore this theory of poetry in relation to a noetics of form and figure in the poetry of the "marginal"thinking Yeats and the "central" -thinking Stevens in order to consider the idea of consciousness as a container and of poetry as a process of containment. By understanding consciousness as a container of thinking, we come to see that human consciousness-and our ability to think metaphorically-virtually creates reality. This thesis is divided into two sections, "The Noetics of Form" and "The Noetics of Figure". Each section contains two chapters each on the poetry of Yeats and Stevens respectively. In the first section, I argue that the poetry of both Yeats and Stevens imitates a meditative mode of thinking. In Chapter One I explore Yeats's poetry as a dialectical mode of meditation. For Yeats, the process of containment is repeatedly undermined or postponed through an imitation of internal argument. His dialogues imitate an ongoing process of differentiation--a splitting of the objective and the subjective modes of thinking--in a struggle to enact containment through a transcendence or reconciliation of opposing lines of thought. In Chapter Two, I illustrate how Stevens's meditative poetry often imitates a process of thinking which is less determined and more observational than Yeats's. While there is still an implicit split between subjective and objective thought in Stevens' poetry, he more often imitates modes of thinking which recognize the co-dependency of human consciousness and objective reality, resulting in the imagined objective. Section II concerns the Noetics of Figure in the poetry of Yeats and Stevens, examining how their most dominant imagery represents a paradigm of human consciousness. In Chapter Three, I illustrate how Yeats's images suggest transcendence, a movement towards and beyond the margins of consciousness. I ground this discussion in Northrop Frye's view of images of ascent as being connected with an intensifying consciousness. Yeats's figures of mountains, trees, towers, and ladders represent consciousness, while his images of birds represent various forms of thinking within-and in an attempt to transcend--its limits. In Chapter Four, I look at Stevens's images of colour and shape as major noetic figures. These figures represent a movement towards the centre ofhuman consciousness, and a model ofconsciousness as an ever-expanding container of reality. In my concluding chapter, I look at two late poems from each ofthe poets in order to illustrate the contrasts and comparisons between these paradigms ofhuman consciousness. Though both Yeats and Stevens are concerned with a creating and created consciousness, Stevens' noetics offigure provide us with a theory ofpoetry that is a theory oflife, through which we come to see both poets as imitating a process of containment through the act of poetic composition.|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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