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Lyric as ComedyThe Poetics of Abjection in Postwar America$
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Calista McRae

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501750977

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501750977.001.0001

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Robert Lowell

Robert Lowell

The Noise of One’s Own Voice

(p.52) Chapter 2 Robert Lowell
Lyric as Comedy

Calista McRae

Cornell University Press

This chapter looks at the ways in which being alienated from and encumbered with one's self, of inevitably being caught in a role, can be funny. It discusses how Robert Lowell wants to shed the way he sounds, the thoughts he gravitates toward, the reputation he has, and the physical brain he fears and depends on. It also mentions Lowell being at odds with his own style as he keeps changing style and undercuts the one he is working in. The chapter refers to Lord Weary's Castle and Day by Day, describing the act of writing about the self that is loaded with one's extreme instability, predictableness, and self-dramatization. It then talks about Lowell's frequent revolutions of form which question the tonalities of humor that change when poetry loses the guarantees and obligations of rhyme and meter.

Keywords:   Robert Lowell, Lord Weary's Castle, Day by Day, instability, predictableness, self-dramatization

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