Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Johnny Lorenz

Committee Member

David Galef

Committee Member

Jonathan Greenberg


This thesis argues that several of Charles Wright’s poems use shifting natural images, fragmented form and metapoetics to comment on the uncertain nature of the metaphysical world. “China Traces” opens the thesis by exploring the adequacy of words to match nature’s completeness. “China Traces” specifically uses the natural image of light, calling on the poetic legacy of Emily Dickinson. Another poem, “Returned to Yaak Cabin, I Overhear an Old Greek Song,” seems to freeze a moment, calling upon mortality and the permanence of art. The final poem in Chapter 1 is “Local Journal,” which, set at the end of November, calls on both a theatre motif and Christian imageiy to accompany the natural imagery of autumnal transition. Chapter 2 explores poems set in autumn. Wright’s “Indian Summer” has many elements in common with Dickinson’s “These are the days when Birds come back,” including an attention to the existential discomfort of unseasonable warmth in autumn. The followup, “Indian Summer II” reprises this uncertainty, making use of frequent repetition and engagement with institutional religion. “October” and October II” address the colder days of autumn, and, like ‘Tocal Journal” focus on a transitional moment that symbolizes constant shifts of nature. Wright’s form and wordplay in “October II” in particular mimic the shifting seasons and again show skepticism about the metaphysical realm. The final chapter addresses two of Wright’s “Ars Poetica” poems. The first “Ars Poetica” calls on the legacy of Wallace Stevens and has many aspects that aesthetically link it to visual art. “Ars Poetica II” compares poetry to death and God. Ultimately this thesis works to analyze Charles Wright’s notions that God, nature and language cannot be extricated from one another.

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