Creative thesis: The Ballad of Yellow Wednesday; Critical thesis: 'Light grows from the ground'
: An ecocritical study of the poetry of David Morley

  • Emma Must

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis comprises a creative component, a critical component and a bridging statement.

The creative thesis is a book-length collection of poems arising from my experiences as an environmental campaigner during the 1990s. It concerns my involvement in the campaign to try to prevent an ancient and theoretically protected chalk landscape at Twyford Down in Hampshire, England, from being destroyed by the construction of a motorway.

The critical thesis is an ecocritical analysis of the poetry of the British ecologist and poet, David Morley. Drawing on current ecocritical practice, it situates Morley amongst other contemporary British and Irish poets frequently cited as ‘ecopoets’. The first chapter explores the origins of ecocriticism and its development as a critical practice within the British and Irish academies before examining ecocritical studies of five contemporary British and Irish poets to provide a methodological framework for the subsequent analysis of Morley’s poetry. The second chapter uses an ecocritical approach to explore how scientific ideas and methods manifest themselves in Morley’s early poetry, focusing chiefly on Scientific Papers (2002). Chapter three analyses The Invisible Kings (2007) and Enchantment (2010) from an ecocritical perspective, arguing that their circular and cyclical elements are fundamentally ecopoetic. The fourth chapter explores the themes of dwelling and home in The Gypsy and the Poet (2013) drawing on the writings of Martin Heidegger, the poetry of John Clare, sonnet theory, and aspects of bird-nest construction.

Finally, the bridging statement reflects on the inter-relationship between the creative and critical components. It considers aspects of connection between the creative thesis and the poetry of David Morley in terms of form, theme, process of composition, and response to political issues.

Note that the entire thesis is embargoed and subject to future review decision on 31 July 2026
Date of AwardJul 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorMoyra Haslett (Supervisor) & Garrett Carr (Supervisor)


  • Poetry
  • ecopoetry
  • ecocriticism
  • activism

Cite this