Lyric meditations: Poems that philosophize

Date of Publication


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing


College of Liberal Arts


Literature, Department of

Thesis Adviser

Dinah Roma

Defense Panel Chair

Ronald Baytan

Defense Panel Member

Shirley Lua
Joel Toledo


I present 50 poems both in free verse and sonnet form which convey the intersections between poetic and philosophical thought.

The four-part critical essay that prefaces the collection traces the contours of the philosopher-poets hybrid thought-craft. In the first part, I discuss my background as a professor of philosophy and the ways that this background has shaped my poetics. I present a brief discussion of what Plato refers to as the ancient quarrel between philosophy and poetry, two practices that appear to demand different sensibilities. On the surface, one emphasizes logic and argumentation, while the other is more concerned with sensual experience. I question this dichotomy, citing the writings of philosophers (some of whom are also poets) and literary critics. In the second part, I narrate my adventures with the sonnet, a lyric form whose structure is especially hospitable to philosophical thought. I discuss my writing process in transforming a free verse piece into a sonnet, highlighting the ways that form shapes content. In the third part, I present a critical analysis of poems that philosophize, which may be categorized into three groups: Poems written by contemporary philosophers, or academics who are engaged in the field of philosophy works by 20th-century poets addressing philosophical themes and concepts and modern philosophical sonnets. The critical analysis leads to a description of my own poetics, presented in the fourth and final part. Here, I identify two key moves of modern poems that philosophize: First, there is an implicit or explicit raising of a question, puzzle, or problem that the discipline of philosophy is traditionally employed to investigate. Second, the question is presented or resolved through metaphor, imagery, and lyricism.

The critical essay is followed by my poetry collection, Absence Muse: Lyric Meditations. It is divided into eight sections, each one featuring a specific philosophical theme. In general, these themes hew to the traditional areas or branches of philosophy, such as: metaphysics (which deals with the nature of reality), epistemology (the nature and sources of knowledge), ethics (moral values), and aesthetics (art and beauty). The eight specific themes include the nature of the self and the problem of identity philosophy of time the presence of absence intuitive or chthonic ways of knowing the self-other relation the good life moral obligations and modes of looking.

Abstract Format






Accession Number


Shelf Location

Archives, The Learning Commons, 12F Henry Sy Sr. Hall

Physical Description

1 computer optical disc ; 4 3/4 in.

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