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Breaking ThroughEssays, Journals, and Travelogues of Edward F. Ricketts$
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Edward Ricketts

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780520247048

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520247048.001.0001

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“A Spiritual Morphology of Poetry”

“A Spiritual Morphology of Poetry”

Chapter:
(p.105) Chapter 4 “A Spiritual Morphology of Poetry”
Source:
Breaking Through
Author(s):

Katharine A. Rodger

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520247048.003.0005

The shortest of Edward F. Ricketts's three philosophical essays—the 1939 version reproduced in this chapter is a fourteen-page typescript—“A Spiritual Morphology of Poetry” represents an attempt to “work out” his notions about breaking through and non-teleological thinking “in an actual, practical way in life.” Though classifying poets according their ability to convey or to trigger transcendence is undoubtedly subjective, it can be seen as an exercise, an experiment in how to implement Ricketts's philosophical modus operandi. The essay itself—particularly its discussion of the four “growth stages” of poets—is the most detailed analysis of literature Ricketts ever wrote, and reveals his scientific impulse to group and categorize objects in a world before his gaze, from intertidal specimens to poets. Indeed, the significance of a scientist venturing a detailed discussion of poetry becomes apparent when “A Spiritual Morphology of Poetry” is placed in the context of Ricketts's body of major writings: he sought to heal the breach between the seemingly disjointed worlds of the sciences and the humanities, championing instead a more integrated viewpoint.

Keywords:   Edward F. Ricketts, Spiritual Morphology, breaking through, non-teleological thinking, poets, poetry, sciences, humanities

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