Download Darwin's Bards: British and American Poetry in the Age of by John Holmes PDF

By John Holmes

It is a entire examine of Darwin's Legacy for faith, ecology and the humanities. In Darwin's Bards John Holmes argues that poetry could have a profound effect on how we expect and consider concerning the human situation in a Darwinian global. together with over 50 whole poems and sizeable extracts from numerous extra, Holmes indicates how poets from Tennyson and Browning, via Hardy and Frost, to Ted Hughes, Pattiann Rogers and Edwin Morgan have spoke back to the invention of evolution. Written for scientists, philosophers and ecologists, in addition to poets, critics and scholars of literature, Darwin's Bards is a well timed intervention into the heated debates over Darwin's legacy for faith, ecology and the humanities. The e-book will entice readers for its dialogue of the existential implications of Darwinism, for its shut readings of poetry, and for the reprinted poems themselves.

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Extra resources for Darwin's Bards: British and American Poetry in the Age of Evolution

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Each illustration is made up of a series of images representing the heads or skulls, feet and teeth of different extinct species, all ascending as they increase in size towards the modern horse (Gould 2002: 581, 906; see also Bowler 2003: 195; Savage and Long 1986: 200–1). Gould’s point is that the subtext of these images is given the lie by modern palaeontology, which has shown that different extinct species of horses belonged to different lineages, that some of the more successful species were dwarf forms and that horses are currently doing much less well than they did when they were smaller and had more toes, in terms both of the number of species currently alive and of their populations relative to those of other large herbivores.

To suggest some answers to these questions, I want to look at three poems by Edwin Morgan. Morgan belongs to a distinct Scottish tradition — 27 — d a r wi n’ s b a r d s of Darwinian poetry, looking back less to Frost, Hardy or Jeffers than to the great twentieth-century Scots poet Hugh MacDiarmid, who himself looked back to John Davidson. I will be looking briefly at Davidson’s Nietzschean Social Darwinism in the next chapter. MacDiarmid’s own grapplings with Darwinism have dated less than Davidson’s, but his decision to write poems such as ‘Gairmscoile’, ‘Whuchulls’ and A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle in Scots inevitably puts them beyond the reach of most English and American readers, who cannot hope to realise for themselves the nuances of sound or meaning in his poetry as fully as a native Scot.

Frost is more equivocal about Darwin’s legacy and the validity of his ideas. Although he named Darwin as the greatest thinker of the previous 100 years, he retained a degree of scepticism towards his account of evolution, partly because he was deeply and rightly suspicious of the eugenics seemingly premised on Darwinism in the mid-twentieth century, and partly because he saw Darwin as substituting the fallacy of infinite growth for the bleaker reality of finite growth rounded off with inevitable extinction (see Frost 2006: 317–18, 383–4, 484, 486, 522–4).

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