Date: August 2004
Creator: Harvell, Elizabeth A.
Description: The Naturalist is a collection of poems with a critical preface. In this preface, titled "'Death is the mother of beauty': The Contemporary Elegy and the Search for the Dead," I examine contemporary alterations and manifestations of the traditional genre of elegy. I explore the idea that the contemporary mourner is aware of the need to search for meaning despite living in a world without a centrally believed mythology. This search exposes the mourner's need to remain connected to the dead and, by proxy, to grace. I conclude that the contemporary elegy, through metaphorical figuration, personal memory, and traditional symbolism, simultaneously employs and denies the traditional elegiac conventions of apotheosis and resurrection by reconceiving them as methods not of achieving transcendence but of embracing desire with an acceptance of the inability to transcend. The poems of The Naturalist are a collection of elegies that reflect many of the ideas brought forth in the preface.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries