The Plural of Us is the first book to focus on the poets use of the first-person plural voicepoetrys we. Closely exploring the work of W. H. Auden, Bonnie Costello uncovers the trove of thought and feeling carried in this small word. While lyric has long been associated with inwardness and a voice saying I, we has hardly been noticed, even though it has appeared throughout the history of poetry. Reading for this pronoun in its variety and ambiguity, Costello explores the communal function of poetrythe reasons, risks, and rewards of the first-person plural.Costello adopts a taxonomic approach to her subject, considering we from its most constricted to its fully unbounded forms. She also takes a historical perspective, following Audens interest in the full range of the human pluralities in a time of particular pressure for and against the collective. Costello offers new readings as she tracks his changing approach to voice in democracy. Examples from many other poetsincluding Walt Whitman, T. S. Eliot, Elizabeth Bishop, and Wallace Stevensarise throughout the book, and the final chapter offers a consideration of how contemporary writers find form for what George Oppen called the meaning of being numerous.Connecting insights to philosophy of language and to recent work in concepts of community, The Plural of Us shows how poetry raises vital questionsliterary and socialabout how we speak of our togetherness.
Plural of Us Poetry and Community in Auden and Others