Forms of release : the escape poetry of Hester Pulter, Anne Bradstreet, Thomas Hardy and Robert Frost
The four poets in this dissertation--Hester Pulter, Anne Bradstreet, Thomas Hardy, and Robert Frost--write poems that resist domestic confinement. In these poems, houses become prisons from which the poet must enact an escape. Pulter, Bradstreet, Hardy and Frost--writers drawn from two sides of the Atlantic and two different centuries--are nevertheless linked by the urge to create poems that will provide doorways to less confined states of existence. They are also linked by the formal strategies they use for the attainment of such poetic release, and by the scale of their rebellion against enclosing structures. All four poets make claustrophobic domestic spaces the topic of their poetry, but rather than writing their objections into the unbounded space of free verse, they mimic the confinement of small rooms in the restrained dimensions of their poems. Rather than discard the enclosure of poetry, they accept its confinement. Their forms of release, then, are more pointed; they emerge at brief instances, as opposed to making wholesale departures. Instead of using their poems to create boundless spaces, unrestricted by walls and ceilings and floors, they use their poems to create rooms similar to those occupied by their personae. In poems such as these, poetic freedom is less absolute than relative to the extent of confinement, and it is made sweeter by the awareness of inescapable limits.