The Poetry of Loss : Romantic and Contemporary Elegies book cover
1st Edition

The Poetry of Loss
Romantic and Contemporary Elegies

  • Available for pre-order on April 7, 2023. Item will ship after April 28, 2023
ISBN 9781032009490
April 28, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
200 Pages

FREE Standard Shipping
SAVE $48.00
was $160.00
USD $112.00

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

The Poetry of Loss: Romantic and Contemporary Elegies presents a renewed look at elegy as a long-standing tradition in the literature of loss, exploring recent shifts in the continuum of these memorial poems. This volume investigates the tensions arising in elegiac formulations of grief through detailed analyses of seminal poets including Wordsworth, Keats, and Plath, using psychoanalytic precepts to reconceptualize consolation through poetic strategies of inner representation and what it might mean for personal and collective experiences of loss. Tracing the development of elegy beyond extant readings, this volume addresses contemporary constructs of mourning and their attendant polemics within the wider culture as extensions of elegiac longings and the tendency to refuse consolation and cede to the endlessness of grief. Furthermore, this book concludes that contemporary elegies break with conventions of poetic structure and expression; rather than the poets seeking resolution to grief through compensation, they often find themselves dwelling within the loss rather than externalizing and transcending it. This volume examines these developing psychoanalytic concepts pertaining to a poetics of loss, providing readers with a new appreciation of mourning culture and contemporary attitudes towards grief.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Elegiac Language and Expression of Grief

CHAPTER ONE: Psychoanalytic Theories of Mourning and the Failure to Mourn

CHAPTER TWO: The Lost Child in Wordsworth’s Elegies and John Bowlby’s Attachment and Loss

CHAPTER THREE: Loss and Beauty: Keats’s Women and the "Ode to Psyche"

CHAPTER FOUR: A Consolation of Beauty, Grief, and Sadness in Jane Kenyon’s Poems

CHAPTER FIVE: Sylvia Plath’s Mock and Self-Elegies: A Kleinian Reading of "Edge"

CHAPTER SIX: A Father’s Grief: Elegy and Counter-Tradition in Edward Hirsch’s Gabriel

CHAPTER SEVEN: An Inheritance of Terror: Postmemory and Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma in Second Generation Jews After the Holocaust

CHAPTER EIGHT: The Canticles of Grief: Contemporary Elegies and the Limits of Mourning

CHAPTER NINE: The Literature of Loss: Elegies as a Therapeutic Strategy for Coping with Grief


View More



Judith Harris received her Ph. D from George Washington University, an MA from Brown University, and has taught extensively at universities in the Washington D.C. area. She has been an Assistant Professor at George Washington University and an Associate Lecturer at Catholic University of America. She is the author of three books of poetry, Atonement, The Bad Secret and Night Garden, as well as a critical book of note, Signifying Pain: Constructing and Healing the Self through Writing.


"Our lives are filled with losses and gains. We keep mental representations, mental doubles, of lost persons with whom we have had meaningful connections. Through poetry Judith Harris describes our relationships with such mental doubles. This book opens windows to explore the role of creativity in human psychology."

--Vamık Volkan, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry (University of Virginia) and author of Linking Objects and Linking Phenomena