Modern American Poetry

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Last updated: December 5, 2019

Carl Sandberg
1878-1967*Jurgis dropping a hamburger on the sand in front of Dod*Much of poetry focused on Chicago. Celebrate American working people – “simple poems for simple people”

Jurgis losing hamburger in sand, gets lost in fog
Carl Sandberg, 2 poems: Chicago and Fog

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hog, wheat, railroad, stormy, [husky, brawling,] big shoulders, painted women, gunman killing, wanton hunger, smoke, laughing
“Chicago” Sandberg

HOG Butcher for the World,Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler;Stormy, husky, brawling,City of the Big Shoulders:
“Chicago” Sandberg

THE fog comeson little cat feet.It sits lookingover harbor and cityon silent haunchesand then moves on.

“The Fog”

Walrus Steve goes with Olaf to get ice cream, gets chased by blackbirds
Wallace Stevens, 3 poems: “The Snow Man,” “Emperor of Ice Cream,” “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”

The Snow Man
frozen brain, frosted Bough, snowy pine, Juniper (jumprope), Spruce (Spice), January sound of land, nothingWallace Stevens

One must have a mind of winterTo regard the frost and the boughsOf the pine-trees crusted with snow;And have been cold a long timeTo behold the junipers shagged with ice,The spruces rough in the distant glitterOf the January sun; and not to thinkOf any misery in the sound of the wind,In the sound of a few leaves,Which is the sound of the landFull of the same windThat is blowing in the same bare placeFor the listener, who listens in the snow,And, nothing himself, beholdsNothing that is not there and the nothing that is.
Wallace Stevens”The Snow Man”

The Emperor of Ice Cream
cigars, muscled man whipping, kitchen cups, wenches in dresses, newspaper boys with flowers, emperor of ice cream, dresser, three glass knobs, fantails, horny feet, cold and dumb, lampWallace Stevens

Call the roller of big cigars,The muscular one, and bid him whipIn kitchen cups concupiscent curds.Let the wenches dawdle in such dressAs they are used to wear, and let the boysBring flowers in last month’s newspapers.Let be be finale of seem.The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.Take from the dresser of deal,Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheetOn which she embroidered fantails onceAnd spread it so as to cover her face.If her horny feet protrude, they comeTo show how cold she is, and dumb.Let the lamp affix its beam.

The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

The Emperor of Ice CreamWallace Stevens

anything with “blackbird” in it
“Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”Wallace Stevens

red ??, containing springs, used as hearse (containing Icarus) pulled on tracks, by an ass model
William Carlos Williams: “Spring and all” “red wheelbarrow” “landscape with the fall of Icarus” “Aspodel, that greeny flower” “Tract”

William Carlos Williams
?? — he was “local” and simple, plain. Rejected Euro influences. Between WW1 and WW2. “No ideas but in things” — try to see through ordinary eyes, no poetic allusion

jump on spring, get on road to zombie hospital, blue clouds, broad muddy fields, weeds, water and standing tall trees, red, purple fork, lifeless, slugs, naked, cold, grass, wildcarrot, leaf, stark dignity, begin to awaken
“Spring and All” William Carlos Williams

By the road to the contagious hospitalunder the surge of the bluemottled clouds driven from thenortheast-a cold wind. Beyond, thewaste of broad, muddy fieldsbrown with dried weeds, standing and fallenpatches of standing waterthe scattering of tall treesAll along the road the reddishpurplish, forked, upstanding, twiggystuff of bushes and small treeswith dead, brown leaves under themleafless vines-Lifeless in appearance, sluggishdazed spring approaches-They enter the new world naked,cold, uncertain of allsave that they enter. All about themthe cold, familiar wind-Now the grass, tomorrowthe stiff curl of wildcarrot leafOne by one objects are defined-It quickens: clarity, outline of leafBut now the stark dignity ofentrance-Still, the profound changehas come upon them: rooted, theygrip down and begin to awaken
“Spring and All” William Carlos Williams

wheelbarrow, glazed with rain, chickens
Red WheelbarrowWilliam Carlos Williams

Brueghel (brooding bagel), Icarus fell, Icarus drowning
“landscape with the fall of Icarus” William Carlos Williams

ass model, like a buttercup, I come to sing to you, a life filled with flowers.

Flowers also in hell

Aspodel, that greeny flowerWilliam Carlos Williams

Of asphodel, that greeny flower,like a buttercupupon its branching stem-save that it’s green and wooden-I come, my sweet,to sing to you.We lived long togethera life filled,if you will,with flowers. So thatI was cheeredwhen I came first to knowthat there were flowers alsoin hell.
William Carlos Williams

teach townsppl funeral, tropp of artists, hearse (funeral car), For Christ’s sake not black — let it be weathered, like a farm wagon
“Tract”William Carlos Williams

Frosty the snowman knocks down a wall by mowing near by, meets neighbor who melts him by design, and he turns into a pool.
Robert Frost: Mending wall, mowing, design, meeting and passing, spring pools

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” (frozen ground swells under it, top boulders spill in sun, gap is made) neighbor beyond hill keeps creating wall between us — he is all pine and I’m apple orchard.

“good fences make good neighbors”

“Mending Wall”Robert Frost

never sound but one, whispering scythe, heat of sun, no idle dream, no gold, scared green snake
MowingRobert Frost

fat, white dimpled spider, healing all flower, moth like satin cloth, death, witch’s broth, snow-drop spider, flower all white, “What but design of darkness to appall? If design govern in a thing so small.”
DesignRobert Frost(big white spider on white flower ready to eat a white moth; why are they all white? was there a design to all this?)

went down hill, leaned on gate, we met. footprints on summer dust, your parasol, something there to smile at in the dust.

“Meeting and passing”Robert Frost

pool that reflects the sky, but will be sucked up by trees (To blot out and drink up and sweep away)
“Spring Pools”Robert Frost

Ezra (PLL) sings the cantos with Hugh and a mob (how green was my valley), but then falls into a lake, gets saved by river merchant, and dropped off at the metro station
Ezra Pound: “The cantos” “Hugh Selwyn Mauberley” “The Lake Isle” “The River Merchant’s Wife” “in a station of the metro”

Ezra Pound
“imagism” — rather than describe sth and generalize, present obj directly avoiding complexity and ornateness. Even smooth grammar wasn’t good, so fragments. Interested in East Asian stuff (had yellow fever basically)

The Cantos
Ezra poundSuper long work (he couldn’t let go of the idea that great poetry is very long). Has Chinese characters, geography all over the place

Hugh Selwyn Mauberley
2 alter egos, EP and Mauberley. WWI and its effects on literary worldEzra PoundImagine Hugh trying to resuscitate dead art (poetry). But nope, it was all wrong because he was born in a half savage country and tries to get lilies from stumpy, ugly acorns.

bowl cut, pulling flowers at front gate, bamboo, horse, mingling dust, monkeys (at fourteen, at fifteen, okay now I’m old you piece of sheeeet COME BACK)
The River Merchant’s WifeEzra Pound

ghost faces in crowd, petals on black Bough.

..all at the metro station

In a station of the metroEzra Pound

O God, O Venus, O Mercury, patron of thieves, give me a little tobacco shop.

..anything instead of writing, which requires brains all the dam time!

“The Lake Isle”Ezra Pound, mild parody of W.B. Yeats’ “The lake Isle of Innisfree”

H.D
Imagist poetry

I’m watching an HD TV in Costco, when it turns “Oh red!!” and suddenly someone screams “Helen!” and I turn around and the wind knocks down the TV and hits me and I see purple stars over my head.

H.D.

whirling sea, great pines splashed on rocks, hurling green, fur pool
Oread, H.

D.

All Greece hates, white face, white hands. All Greece reviles
Helen, H.D.

never more wind, rain cherish, snow melted, you’re like a bird that’s flown out of our hand, our heart’s light gone
Never More Will the Wind, H.D.

stars wheel, not so rare or glorious as other stars..

.but disenchanted, cold, imperious face, your star, steel-set = keeps lone and frigid tryst for ships

Stars wheel in purple, H.D.

Marianne Moore
modernist, stated that although poetry departed from real world, recreated that world w/in its forms..

. “Imaginary garden w/ real toads”Her lines are regular — counted by syllables not stress

“I, too, dislike it.” fiddle, holding hands, dilated eyes, hair raised, upside down bat, elephants, wild horse, poets as “literalists of the imagination” “imaginary garden with real toads”
Poetry, Marianne Moore

TS Eliot
Modernist, new historicist

Tradition and the Individual Talent
TS EliotBasically says that in order to appreciate the poem fully, you need to perceive tradition. Tradition is not a “timid adherence” but understanding it as a thing of both past and present. “No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone…You cannot value him alone; you must set him, for contrast and comparison, among the dead.

” *New Historicism*

Let’s go, you and I, evening spread out on sky, like etherised patient on table, half-deserted streets, one-night cheap hotels, sawdust restaurants with oyster shells, turtles arguing, don’t ask “What is it?” Let’s just go visit. yellow fog, yellow smoke. Women coming and going, talking of Michelangelo.
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock TS Eliot

April, cruel –> grow lilacs in dead land. Winter = warm. Cousin and sled “Marie!” What trees or roots grow from this dead land? Unreal city. Burnished throne, Albert and Lil (teeth, Lil, you looking oolldd girl).

Sweet Thames, run softly

The Waste LandTS Eliot

dead land, cactus land, no eyes in valley of dying stars, prickly pear, between __&__ “falls the shadow”. This is the world ends, not with a bang but with a whimper
Hollow MenTS Eliot

cold, deep paths, sharp weather, very dead of winter. We regretted summer palaces. Then came to valley, came to tavern.

“Were we led all that way for birth or death?”

Journey of the MagiTS Eliot

Time present, time past, present in time future. If all time is eternally present all time is nonredeemable.
Burnt Nation (part of Four Quartets)TS Eliot

Eliot (Vance Smith) thinks he goes back to tradition; he’s in a frock speaking to Alfred Hitchcock, on a camel to see Jesus, but instead he comes upon a burnt nation and sees hollow men walking around like zombies.
TS Eliot: he’s a new historicist, wrote: The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Waste Land, Hollow Men, Journey of the Magi, Burnt Nation

salesman stinks, jennelman, lonjewray, condoms, snakeoil, superfluous hair, subhuman rights
“a salesman is an it that stinks Excuse “ee cummings

ee cummings
he also wrote some plays, and his most famous one was about santa claus.

his poetry is distinguished by it being experimental; he played around with capitalization, punctuation, hyphenation, etc. Poems should be read aloud rather than read (“lonjewray”)

robinson jeffers
believed man is inherently flawed while in civilization and thus must flee to nature. most of his poetry is about ranch isolated in california. robinhood rides on roan stallion, with a hurt hawk on his shoulder, leap over stone-cutters to a shining, perishing castle (republic)

Humanity is the start of the race; I say / Humanity is the mold to break away from, the crust to break through, the coal to break into fire / The atom to be split
roan stallionrobinson jeffers

While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity, heavily thickening to empire / and protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops and sighs out and the mass hardens
shine, perishing republicrobinson jeffers

Stone-cutters fighting time with marble, you fore-defeatedChallengers of oblivionEat cynical earnings, knowing rock splits, records fall down,The square-limbed Roman lettersScale in the thaws, wear in the rain. The poet as wellBuilds his monument mockingly:For man will be blotted out, the blithe earth dies, the brave sunDie blind, his heart blackening:Yet stones have stood for a thousand years, and pained thoughts foundThe honey peace in old poems.
to the stone-cuttersrobinson jeffers

The broken pillar of the wing jags from the clotted shoulder,The wing trails like a banner in defeat,No more to use the sky forever but live with famineAnd pain a few days: cat nor coyoteWill shorten the week of waiting for death, there is game without talons.

You do not know him, you communal people, or you have forgotten him;Intemperate and savage, the hawk remembers him;Beautiful and wild, the hawks, and men that are dying, remember him.I’d sooner, except the penalties, kill a man than a hawk; but the great redtailHad nothing left but unable misery

hurt hawksrobinson jeffers

Amy Lowell
Imagist poet

I walk down the garden paths,And all the daffodilsAre blowing, and the bright blue squills. I walk down the patterned garden paths In my stiff, brocaded gown.With my powdered hair and jewelled fan, I too am a rarePattern. As I wander downThe garden paths.

Patterns Amy Lowell

If I could catch the green lantern of the fireflyI could see to write you a letter.
A LoverAmy Lowell

Greatly shining,The Autumn moon floats in the thin sky;And the fish-ponds shake their back and flash their dragon scalesAs she passes over them
Wind and SilverAmy Lowell

HERE I am, an old man in a dry month, Being read to by a boy, waiting for rain. I was neither at the hot gates Nor fought in the warm rain Nor knee deep in the salt marsh, heaving a cutlass, Bitten by flies, fought. My house is a decayed house, And the jew squats on the window sill, the owner, Spawned in some estaminet of Antwerp, Blistered in Brussels, patched and peeled in London. The goat coughs at night in the field overhead; Rocks, moss, stonecrop, iron, merds. The woman keeps the kitchen, makes tea, Sneezes at evening, poking the peevish gutter.

I an old man, A dull head among windy spaces.

GerontionTS Eliot

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