Date of Thesis

2011

Thesis Type

Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Department

Humanities

First Advisor

Saundra Morris

Abstract

Beauty is a central concern in the works of two modern American poets, Elizabeth Bishop and Richard Wilbur. Both poets have formal styles with emphases on descriptive imagery and natural tropes. While these two poets have often been studied individually in their own right, they have not previously been studied together with the particular focus on beauty. So, in my thesis, through close study of many of their works, I draw out their understandings of beauty and discuss how they relate to each other and to their audience. Iprimarily utilize their most extensive collections, which are Bishop’s The Complete Poems: 1927-1979 and Wilbur’s Collected Poems:1943 - 2004. I also drew from other less anthologized sources and prose work. In my first chapter, I examine Bishop’s work closely, and in my second chapter I analyze Wilbur’s poetry. I conclude that the concept of beauty is similarly important for both poets, but motivates them to different levels of action and commitment,Bishop’s understanding of life being less spiritual than Wilbur’s. I introduce the possibility that beauty represents a positive reality that may prove more inspiring and victorious than the pain and hardship encountered throughout human life.

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