Paterson III is dominated by natural disasters1 — cyclone, fire, flood — and individual murders and suicides. Centred on ‘The Library’ (the Danforth Memorial Library), III is prefaced by a quotation from Santayana’s The Last Puritan reiterating Paterson’s central metaphor, its gist that ‘cities are a second body for the human mind’. Its opening song sets ‘A fortune bigger than/Avery could muster’ (P, 117) against the pricelessness of the locust tree in flower. This tree embodies the theme of ‘Beautiful Thing’ which pervades the book. In tension with the parallel ‘search for the redeeming language’ and for love2 is man’s ambivalent response to beauty, his urge to possess and destroy it. Thus beauty is set over against the destructive elements.


Rock Salt Beautiful Thing Elemental Disaster Deaf Woman Related Chord 
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  1. 4.
    George Zabriskie, ‘The Geography of Paterson’, Perspective, vol. vi, no. 4 (Autumn 1953) p. 212.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    Glauco Gambon, The Inclusive Flame: Studies in Modern American Poetry ( Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1965 ) p. 203.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Charles Doyle 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles Doyle
    • 1
  1. 1.University of VictoriaCanada

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