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Poetry's Self-Portrait

The Visual Arts as Mirror and Muse in René Char and John Ashbery


Mary E. Eichbauer

The intricate relationship between poetry and the visual arts has invited centuries of speculation about a deep connection of all art to mysterious sources of inspiration. In contrast, this study considers their association to be the ideological effect of a «colonizing» gaze which is essentially self-referential. By analyzing the poetry of René Char and John Ashbery, both deeply involved with art and artists, this study persuasively argues that the arts traditionally act for poetry as a kind of muse: a source of inspiration and a mirror for poetic self-definition.
Contents: Painting as a myth of poetic origins; painting as muse and mirror; autodiscourse, creation or commonplace; myth of origins in René Char's prose poems; John Ashbery's self-portraiture.