Event Title

Reconciliation and Preconditions of Existence: Normative Mythological Foundations in the Poetry of Robert Frost

Location

Inman E. Page Library, Room 100

Start Date

11-10-2017 9:00 AM

End Date

11-10-2017 9:50 AM

Description

Using several of Frost’s better-known works—“Mending Wall,” “The Road Not Taken,” “To Earthward,” and “Desert Places”

--as a lens, as it were, I consider the issue of moral formation in the arts as it pertains to this highly-influential poet’s motifs. My paper suggests that, while he remained throughout his career an attendant oeuvre, in effect, both sardonic skeptic and therapeutic nihilist, Frost’s poetry nonetheless frequently conforms to Joseph Campbell’s well-known dictum that the primary function of mythology—and thereby all narrative art—is the inculcation from one generation to the next of the ineradicable and immutable, i.e. the reconciliation with limitations, most especially limitations of possibility and choice. Thus, its famously prismatic contradictions: “terrifying,” as Trilling put it, in that it insists upon helplessness, yet edifying, as I would express it, in that it subsumes moral anarchy in an inscrutably ordered framework of existence.

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Nov 10th, 9:00 AM Nov 10th, 9:50 AM

Reconciliation and Preconditions of Existence: Normative Mythological Foundations in the Poetry of Robert Frost

Inman E. Page Library, Room 100

Using several of Frost’s better-known works—“Mending Wall,” “The Road Not Taken,” “To Earthward,” and “Desert Places”

--as a lens, as it were, I consider the issue of moral formation in the arts as it pertains to this highly-influential poet’s motifs. My paper suggests that, while he remained throughout his career an attendant oeuvre, in effect, both sardonic skeptic and therapeutic nihilist, Frost’s poetry nonetheless frequently conforms to Joseph Campbell’s well-known dictum that the primary function of mythology—and thereby all narrative art—is the inculcation from one generation to the next of the ineradicable and immutable, i.e. the reconciliation with limitations, most especially limitations of possibility and choice. Thus, its famously prismatic contradictions: “terrifying,” as Trilling put it, in that it insists upon helplessness, yet edifying, as I would express it, in that it subsumes moral anarchy in an inscrutably ordered framework of existence.