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date: 26 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This essay raises a number of questions about the power and reach of poetry, by approaching the medium in terms of reparation, atonement, and redress. The opening section focuses on the first of the terms, exploring its relation to poetry through a reading of ‘The Man and the Echo’ by W. B. Yeats, whose desire to make reparation not only encounters, but also accepts, the limitations of the medium. The two following sections concentrate on the work of two contemporary poets: the first discusses Geoffrey Hill’s understanding of atonement, while the second considers Seamus Heaney’s understanding of redress. These are primarily critical understandings, and each section is concerned to highlight the subjectivity of their claims, while also exploring some of their overlaps with the creative work. The final section highlights a number of telling points of contact between these two understandings, linking their focus on poetry’s form and their reliance on ideas of equivalence to broader questions of reception.

Keywords: reparation, atonement, redress, making amends, form, performativity, equivalence, reception

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