William Bond, “Love the Live Oak: Sidney Lanier’s Ecopoetics and the Critique of Mediation” (pp. 427–454)

Sidney Lanier’s poetry has long been read as an exercise in the poetics of pure sound (and as either an escape from or an affront to a poetics of subjective lyric expression). As this essay shows, in an early phase of Lanier’s poetic career, his poetics of pure sound is tied to a late-Romantic form of nature poetry, which anticipates the new materialist ecotheory of the twenty-first century: specifically, in the 1872 essay “Nature-Metaphors,” Lanier lays out a model of nature poetry founded on the belief that poetic form can embody an ontological continuity between human and nonhuman being. This essay argues that Lanier’s ontological model of ecopoetics negates the need for mediation in the experience of nature. This is, at bottom, a fantasy of immediacy that demands the erasure of human-nonhuman difference. In the final section of the essay, Lanier’s last poem “Sunrise” is examined; there, we can see Lanier outlining an alternative ecopoetics that, rather than trying to circumvent poetic mediation, relocates it within experiences of rhythm.

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