The Persistence of Beauty Public Lecture Series - 'Enigmatical Beauty of Each Beautiful Enigma': The Persistent Poetics of Beauty and Death in Walt Whitman and Wallace Stevens
This is the fifth lecture in The Persistence of Beauty Public Lecture Series.
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Whitman and Stevens share an abiding fascination for the 'beautiful enigma' of ordinary things. Both poets recognise the ordinary as a source of imaginative vision, but also understand that the particulars of nature constitute an 'enigmatical beauty' of their own which confounds the imagination.
This lecture explores the varying ways that the imaginative encounters of Whitman and Stevens with beauty in the ordinary shaped their respective poetics of process, change, and death. In spite of poetic differences, Whitman read in the specifics of nature the ‘delicious word death' and Stevens learned the axiom that ‘Death is the mother of all beauty'.
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