BRANDY RYAN Since the death instinct exists in the heart of everything that lives, since we suffer from trying to repress it, since everything that lives longs for rest, let us unfasten the ties that bind us to life, let us cultivate our death wish, let us develop it, water it like a plant, let it grow unhindered. Suffering and fear are born from the repression of the death wish. -Eugène Ionesco (1967)1 he ties that bind women elegists to one another differ radically from what we consider normative elegiac bonds. Felicia Hemans, Letitia Landon, and Elizabeth Barrett did not share any kind of personal relationship: they were not friends; they did not move in the same literary circles; they did not write to each other.2 Yet these three women developed an elegiac dialogue that set in place a poetic economy of shared and negotiated values that flourished throughout the nineteenth century. Hemans' "The Grave of a Poetess" (1828), Landon's "Stanzas on the Death of Mrs. Hemans" (1835), and Barrett's "Stanzas Addressed to Miss Landon and Suggested by Her `Stanzas on the Death of Mrs. Hemans'" (1835) use the elegiac genre as a space to evaluate women poets
Victorian Poetry – West Virginia University Press
Published: Nov 28, 2008
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