Date of Award

5-2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

English

Major Professor

Thomas F. Haddox

Committee Members

Dawn Coleman, Benjamin Lee, Mark Hulsether

Abstract

Many poets write about the earth or even about God using the language of nature. And many poets and contemporary authors concern themselves with the state of the environment. However, the poetry of Wendell Berry, James Still, Li-Young Lee, Mary Oliver, and Charles Wright seems to engage different kinds of questions about how humans creatively respond to the earth. Collectively, their responses seem influenced by their connections with Christianity rather than any specific ecological agenda. In all of their poetry lies a sensibility about how humans should interact with the earth. All five of the poets seem to acknowledge humanity’s place on the earth as important without elevating humanity as the most important organism on the earth. Their work presupposes the existence of God or creator and because of this, engages the questions of being human in light of that Creator rather than as creators of their own environment or as the architecture of imagination. Their work offers an important insight into how we might live in harmony with all environments—agricultural, rural, wild or urban. Their work also suggests a connection between the Christian concept of worship, and a way of living that takes responsibility for human actions within creation. Their poetry recognizes the earth’s value as well as God’s presence and results in praise of both the beauty of creation and Creator.

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