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Tradition, Translation, TraumaThe Classic and the Modern$
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Jan Parker and Timothy Mathews

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199554591

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199554591.001.0001

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No Consolation

No Consolation

The Lamenting Voice and Public Memory

(p.211) 11 No Consolation
Tradition, Translation, Trauma

Gail Holst‐Warhaft

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers the question of whether poetry is useful as a public statement of grief. It focuses on an elemental poetic response to death: the lament. Laments were performed by women who were professional or semiprofessional mourners; they were intended to evoke a strong response in the community gathered at the funeral. Making pain audible through their wept songs, and visual, through their dishevelled hair and lacerated cheeks, lamenting women orchestrated a spectacle of mourning that was part theatre, part spontaneous response to the anguish of grief.

Keywords:   poetry, poems, public statement, laments, mourning, grief, lamenting women

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