Sound and death in John Haines's poetry Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/zc77sv43b

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  • Poet John Haines is best known for his first book of poetry, Winter News, which was published in 1966. The book contains poems about the Alaskan landscape that surrounded Haines during his many years of living in Richardson, Alaska. The recurring motifs in his poems include hunting, trapping, the Arctic cold, animals, and death. Haines says Winter News "was born of the isolation in which I then lived" (preface OMD) . It is an isolation that Haines portrays well to his audience and one that has earned him critical praise. Many critics have focused on Haines's use of metaphor and imagery throughout his poetry in Winter News and subsequent books, yet one area that has not been addressed in detail is Haines's use of sound devices, a vital poetic element. Scholar Helen Vendler says that poets are aware of all the sounds in their poems, as well as the various rhythms. Vendler notes that "poets 'bind' words together in a line by having them share sounds, whether consonants or vowels. This makes the words sound as if they 'belong' together by natural affinity" (l45). Haines produces sounds and rhythms using a variety of devices such as assonance, consonance, and alliteration. This paper closely examines a variety of his poems in Winter News and subsequent books, and it illustrates his extensive sound device usage. Chapter one introduces Haines and establishes the boundaries of this paper. Chapter two discusses the importance sound has in poetry; the chapter details Goold Brown's classification of letters, which is used as the basis for the sound dissection. Selected poems from Winter News and later books are discussed in detail. Chapter three analyzes the death motif, particularly prevalent in "The Moosehead," "On the Divide," and "Arlington." Haines's sound device usage, in connection with these poems, also is examined in chapter three. The final chapter discusses the conclusions that culminate from the previous chapters.
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