Weldon Kees and the Poetic Landscapes of Despair
Keywords:Weldon Kees, poetry, Robinson, Hart Crane
The aim of this paper is to contribute to the efforts to renew an interest in the poetry of Weldon Kees, a more or less forgotten American poet of late modernism. The main argument of this paper is that Weldon Kees, while a belated poet of modernism, successfully swerved away from the earlier poetics of modernism and proved capable of constructing a unique poetics of despair and alienation. In many ways, an heir of Hart Crane’s tragic sense of life, Kees’ misreading of Hart Crane was highly fertile and crucially conducive to the creation of his own visionary poetics. In the first part of our discussion, a more generalized overview of Kees’ poetry is developed, while in the second part, we analyze the four Robinson poems which constitute the nucleus of Kees’ existential aesthetics. Notwithstanding the fact that despair is a ubiquitous presence in Kees’ poetry, it does not manifest itself as an inhibiting force; on the contrary, while despair is inextricably linked to his tragic fate, it also acts as a major creative impetus, which helped Kees express his relationship to the world and, consequently, his place in it.
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