The Poetry of Dennis Haskell: Stylisation and Elegy
In this essay I concentrate on the elegiac poetry of the Australian poet Dennis Haskell. I argue that the emphasis in Haskellâ€™s work on the quotidian, clarity of expression and the communication of emotion, has a material effect on the ways in which Haskell approaches the elegiac project: the poetic expression of grief in the face of loss. In the essay I identify three main classes of elegy in Haskellâ€™s oeuvre: elegies for fellow poets (which, after Lawrence Lipking, I call â€œtombeauxâ€); the familial elegy; and the spousal elegy. Haskellâ€™s engagement with the genre of the elegy therefore occupies a spectrum between what might be termed â€œpublicâ€ elegies, and â€œintimateâ€ elegies. As I discuss, the intimate elegies indicate a more profound, and sometimes troubled, engagement with the genre of elegy, tipping on occasion in anti -elegy and self-elegy. By undertaking textual analyses of various poems from within the three classes of elegy practised by Haskell, I illustrate the different ways in which he deals with one of the most profound problems that faces an elegist: how to express the profound emotion of grief through the affordances of poetic stylisation.
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