"Bright Unequivocal Eye": Poems, Papers, and Remembrances by Bert G. Hornback

By Bert G. Hornback

In April of 1998 the 1st Jane Kenyon convention introduced jointly Donald corridor, Wendell Berry, Galway Kinnell, Alice Mattison, Gregory Orr, and Joyce Peseroff besides a few students, academics, scholars, and admirers of Jane Kenyon's poetry. What used to be stated approximately Jane Kenyon and approximately her poetry was once educated and informative, and sometimes very relocating. This quantity collects poems and feedback approximately her and her paintings through corridor, Berry, Kinnell, Mattison, Orr, and Peseroff, in addition to essays via a dozen different convention members.

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Additional info for "Bright Unequivocal Eye": Poems, Papers, and Remembrances from the First Jane Kenyon Conference

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That week, we thought she’d live.  Our Lady of Sorrows: Some Thoughts on Jane Kenyon Gregory Orr I want to apologize for what may take place here, before it takes place. . it has a complicated relationship to my feelings. The first thing I want to plead is Keats—Keats is not only Jane’s hero but mine—and his anxiety that he will vanish or that his time will vanish before he’s able to glean his teeming brain and externalize it. The second thing I need to explain is that I’ve avoided making this talk too personal because I haven’t really successfully grieved Jane’s loss, if one ever does that; and so I’ve made it more cerebral, to prevent opening myself up to that feeling.

The recollected floating vision of Section Five lies far in the past, and the fall back into Melancholy is cruelly steep. Yet the recollection initiates a turn outward that continues in Section Six, although this time the scale is so much smaller that one may not at first recognize a connection. The speaker, having withdrawn from the first floor of the house, has not sought any comfort. But The dog searches until he finds me upstairs, lies down with a clatter of elbows, puts his head on my foot.

But Kenyon has managed to draw on a narrative that resonates deeply as a sustained metaphor without insisting on its literal commitments. What she has found is a way of reconciling the categories of modern medicine—in which a biochemically produced psyche has replaced the soul, so that monoamine oxidase inhibitors inspire more confidence than meditation—with older ways of naming and thinking about mental illness, as primarily a disease of soul rather than body. The poem seems divided between an impulse to defend against melancholy, treating it as a disease to be warded off, and a hope that insight can transform melancholy into something humanly and poetically sustainable, treating it as a quality of spiritual temperament to be accepted rather Paul Breslin 41  than cured, or in which cure and disease are mutually intertwined.

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