Robert Lowell’s “Benign Possession” in Revisiting Traditions
Shanjida Khatun Boksh, Ph.D.
Abstract: Robert Lowell’s poetry is saturated in intertextuality and returns frequently to contemporary and past authors of many nationalities for deep infusions of strength in poetry that is neither a recapitulation nor a replica, but something new — a new incarnation in an enriched context. Lowell’s experimental attitude towards poetry, seen in his constant revision of various forms of tradition, establishes his professionalism as well as his aspiration to create a distinct position in the literary world. It likewise suggests the lineaments of Lowell, the composite figure of various traditions, whose inner eye looks toward British and European literature while being consciously stimulated by interior matters. Lowell’s imagination treats all of time, place, and person as fluid for his poetry, and recognizes no borders. The capacious cosmopolitanism of Ezra Pound and the Anglo-Americanism of T. S. Eliot were authoritative standards of the high modern poetry that Lowell respected throughout his working life and the two remain in view as separate cases of influence. This paper discusses various influences on Robert Lowell and his poetry as an amalgamation of various traditions which serve to identify his cosmopolitanism.
Keywords: Tradition; Influence; Imitation; Cosmopolitanism; Intertextuality; Revision
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Published in 2015