Empty caves

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This MA thesis is divided into three parts. 1) A Preface, which concerns the act of writing this work, with a reflections on the attendant difficulties regarding editing and editorial distance. A placement of the poetry in relation to "South African writing", and to late 20th century poetry. A brief elucidation of the poems' preoccupations and concems. 2) Two Essays, entitled "Dear Warlock-Williams: Why of Course: The Lonely Larkin" and 'William Empson : His Modem Escape". The first concerns Philip Larkin's uncanny ability to create a beauty out of irony, isolation, and desolation, his achievement of transcendence from entrapment. The second essay deals with William Empson's unique poetic position: a truly modem one. The essays puts forward the idea that Empson's poetry can be regarded as a struggle between a wish for escape and a need to engage with an horrendous "objective" reality. In other words, his struggle is between poetry and plain speaking; between art and science. 3) The Poems, which form a group of forty written throughout 1997/8. They have been thoroughly edited several times over, in close consultation with Assoc. Prof. Stephen Watson of the Department of English.