Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


There have always been elements in the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, William Butler Yeats, and Dylan Thomas that have been difficult to account for. Although each of these writers is generally engaged with modern poetics and sensitive to the issues of his time, certain characteristics of the work--such as Hopkins' unusual diction, Yeats's concern for traditional metres, or Thomas's elaborate rhyme schemes--seem out of keeping with a position in the mainstream of modernism. This dissertation attempts to shed some light on these puzzling characteristics by revealing them to be features of a bardic style, the consequence of these writers' involvement with the work of Welsh and Irish medieval poets. The distinctive traits of bardic poetry--its orality, formality, and purposiveness--are, in the opinion of this study, what gives rise to some of the more provocative aspects of the poetry of Hopkins, Yeats, and Thomas.;Each poet is discussed separately, but the shape of each discussion is the same. First, the poet's early influences and original conceptions of the bardic tradition are dealt with. Second, a close analysis of several important poems indicates the extent to which each poet made use of the principles of bardic prosody and versification. Third, the poet's reasons for re-animating a bardic stance in a modern world, and some of the interesting incongruities of that endeavour, are explored.;What the study discovers is that a better understanding of how the bardic style functions in the poetry of Hopkins, Yeats, and Thomas illuminates not only some of their more difficult works, but also brings a new perspective to some of their most familiar poems. And the study demonstrates that, far from being outmoded or regressive, the bardic style offers these three writers a source of linguistic refreshment and a formal challenge that enables them to take an entirely new approach to the very modern problems of poetic language, meaning, and efficacy.



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