Sophie Seita



The Ethics of Attention in Peter Larkin’s ‘Leaves of Field’

This paper is concerned with ‘making sense’ in Peter Larkin’s ‘Leaves of Field’, a long poem that articulates a post-pastoral poetics based on ethical valency activated by attention. ‘Leaves of Field’ directs questions at us: How do we look at ‘natural’ objects? What is adequate poetic description? Can there be ethics without an apparent subject? How can we avoid instrumentalising nature poetically and ecologically after human intervention? What is the ‘value’ of human-and-non-human relations? Creating a lyricism not based on self-expression or explicitly only-human community, Larkin answers the challenges of writing innovatively with ethical consciousness by attending minutely to poetic texture and to ‘attention’ itself.

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