A Poetry Beyond Oneself: Community in Auden and Geoffrey Hill



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This project examines the ability, or inability, of the poet to speak for those other than his or herself, by looking at two poets: W.H Auden and Geoffrey Hill. Both poets feel an obligation to their communities, recognizing their linguistic medium as a product of community. However, both poets also recognize that language has a power to build or tear down a community. This power of language, to create or harm relationships among people, becomes a focus for these two poets in the poems investigated in this project, as Hill and Auden both attempt to speak for more than just themselves. For Auden, the question manifests itself in the form of modulating first personal pronouns, shifting between the singular and the plural, as Auden attempts to preserve the individual integrity among a multitude. For Hill, the question of speaking for others manifests itself as a series of questioning introspections, exposing the task as an ethical demand, but perhaps one that cannot be met ethically.



self, community, responsibility, plural, others, language, verse, poetry, prose, Geoffrey Hill, W. H. Auden