-a nineteenth-century movement in the Romantic tradition, which held that every individual can reach ultimate truths through spiritual intuition, which transcends reason and sensory experience.-Promoted individualism, self-reliance, and freedom from social constraints, and emphasized emotions-God, humanity, and nature are all connected-world psyche also known as the Oversoul, Life-Force, Prime Mover, or God
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
-from Massachusetts -lives with Ralph Waldo Emerson and his family in Concord-Spends some time in a small house he builds for himself on Walden Pond-1846 Mexican War, Thoreau spends a night in jail for refusing to pay a poll tax
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Henry David ThoreauPlot: imagining living in all these different places, positives of isolation in nature, not being affect by fast pace technology, celebration of the individual, god’s role in natureMemorable: “morning is when I am awake, and there is a dawn in me” morning is a state of being
-American poet and transcendentalist who was famous for his beliefs on nature-He was therefore an important part for the buildup of American literature and breaking the traditional rhyme method in writing poetry.
Song of Myself
Walt WhitmanTheme: power of the individual, importance of individual experience, each individual connected to a grander nature, importance of universal ability to celebrate themselves
O Captain! My Captain!
Walt WhitmanMessage: contradiction between victory and loss, ship returning home to celebratory crowds while captain is deadLiterary Device: Allegory for the civil war: Lincoln=captain “Fallen cold and dead”
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
-lived as a recluse -spare language and simple rhyme schemes, she explored universal themes of nature, love, death, and immortality-she refused during her lifetime to publish any of her poems, when she died, nearly two thousand of them were found among her papers and eventually made their way into print.
-Success is counted sweetest
Emily Dickinson-Message: successful people don’t feel success, the only way to feel successful is to start poor, you understand success when you don’t have it Memorable: “to comprehend a nectar Requires sorest need”
-Much Madness is divinest Sense
Emily Dickinson Message: what is often declared madness is actually the most profound kind of sanity, what is often called sense or sanity is in fact not just “Madness,” but profound madness, it is only called “Sense” because it is not defined by reason but by what the majority thinks, anyone thought of by majority as insane is “handled with a Chain”-defense of her reclusion from society
Because I could not stop for Death
Emily DickinsonPlot: Death and narrator taking a ride in a carriage to a grave gentle guide, leading her to eternityMemorable: Personification of death, “We paused before a House that seemed a Swelling of the Ground” (grave mound)
– Pessimism, cynicism, and personal emptiness- Isolation (physically or psychologically): Often result of mass industrialism- Lack of Communication – Alienation – Emphasis on tradition, form, style, and technique – Images and symbols – Colloquial over formal language
Robert Frost (1874-1963)
-New England was the setting for many of his poems-uses simple words and dialect
-Robert Frost-Plot: two men meeting on terms of civility and neighborliness to build a barrier between them. They do so out of tradition, out of habit, no reason to have the wall, not cows -Theme: tradition vs. change-Memorable: “good fences make good neighbors” “something there is that does not love a wall” “Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it where there are cows?” “he is all pine and I am apple orchard” “whom i was like to give offense”
-Robert FrostPlot: After a long day’s work, the speaker is tired of apple picking. He has felt drowsy and dreamy since the morning when he looked through a sheet of ice lifted from the surface of a water trough. Now he feels tired, feels sleep coming on, but wonders whether it is a normal, end-of-the-day sleep or something deeper.
Memorable: “ladder’s sticking through a tree toward heaven still” “long sleep, as I describe its coming on, or just some human sleep” “I am overtired”ASK
-Robert Frost-Plot: man wandering far from home through a forest and in a swap and comes across some old chopped wood in the wilderness-Theme: becoming one with nature, triviality of human involvement with nature
The Road Not Taken
-Robert Frost-Message: The choice makes all the difference. Focus on the road not taken, not the road he actually took. But the nature of the decision is such that there is no Right Path—just the chosen path and the other path.-Tone: Remorseful
-Robert Frost-Form: Blank verse-Plot: A boy isolated in nature, far way from outer normalities, learning through self reliance and experience, swinging through birch trees, innocent until the trees bend forever-narrator wants to go back to that time “inner dome of heaven had fallen”
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
-Robert Frost-Form: Iambic Tetrameter-Message: Appreciation of nature, stopping by woods of some man whose house is in the village-Memorable: “The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep”
-Robert Frost-Form: a lot of consonant sounds with alliteration-Plot: boys is working with a buzz saw in backyard, sister calls him for supper, buzz saw cuts off his had, doctor comes, he dies, everyone goes back to doing what they routinely do-Message: technological advancement is diminishing the value of human life, the danger to people’s importance being merely what they can do-based on a true story-Memorable: buzz-saw snarled and rattled in the yard-Literary devices: Saw metaphor “saw knew what supper meant, leaped out at the boy’s hand”, Metonymy of Life “keep the life from spilling”
Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)
-Imagist sect of Modernism: Direct treatment of the object of a poem withoutexcess words-spent most of his life working for The Hartford Insurance Company in CT-modern poetry: “the act of finding what will suffice”
Anecdote of the Jar
Wallace Stevens-Message: Nature vs. Manmade, jar disrupts the wilderness “the wilderness rose up to it, and sprawled around, no longer wild”-Destruction v. Creation
William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)
-simple, but striking beautiful imagery- wrote early as an imagist-more casual like form-strong influencer of 1950’s literature
The Young Housewife
William Carlos WilliamsMemorable: negligee sounds like neglect, her “husband’s house?” Why is she a fallen leaf? Is she lost? Perhaps she’s just another woman (leaf) being crushed by domestic life and men (car tires).
The Red Wheelbarrow
William Carlos Williams-Form: fragmented -striking imagery, industry vs agriculture “so much depends upon”
This is Just to Say
William Carlos WilliamsForm: very casual, like a note left on a kitchen tableImagery: plums, icebox, delicious, sweet, coldMessage: doesn’t seem to feel remorseful over eating the delicious plums
-talked about the disillusionment of the decade and wrote “the waste land”; -American poet in England; described postwar world as a barren wasteland drained of hope and faith
The Love Song of J.
T.S. Eliot-Form: Begins with allusion section of Dante’s Inferno (different layers of hell)-Message: narrator is wasting his life on indecisions keeps thinking there is time to do everything before dying but is wrong -Memorable: “In the room the women come and go Talking of Michelangelo” -Literary devices: Fog metaphor for a cat, Eyes synecdoche for people judging him, Arms synecdoche for women he has known-Allusion: Dante’s inferno segment, John the Baptist “I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter, Death “I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, Hamlet “I am not Prince Hamlet, not was meant to be”
T.S. Eliot-narrated by one of the hollow men- dry, meaningless voices and bodies exist in a state like Hell, except they were too timid and cowardly to commit the violent acts that would have gained them access to Hell-The Hollow Men are afraid to look at people or to be looked atMemorable: “This is the way the world endsNot with a bang but a whimper”
– 1920’s and 1930’s-caused by Northern migration and White oppression-reached a critical mass of African-Americans to be able to create and support a cultural identity
Claude McKay (1889-1948)
-All poems in sonnet form-Jamaican American-lives in New York
Claude McKay-Message: contrast between magical trance tone and falseness, black stripper dancing for a white crowd in awe-Memorable: “Applauding youths laughed with young prostitutes”
The White City
Claude McKay-Shakespearean sonnet-Message: narrator is empowered and embraces the hate and suffering -Memorable: “If this dark Passion that fills my every mood, And makes my heaven in the white world’s hell”-Literary device: personification/allusion of Passion: Passion of Christ (passion is in suffering)-white city maybe Chicago
Claude McKay-Shakespearean sonnet-Message: narrator feels empowered by the hate in America-Memorable: “I love this cultured hell that tests my youth!”-Literary device: personification of America as a woman-Allusion to Ozymandias (Percy Bysshe Shelley): “Time’s unerring hand, like priceless treasures sinking in the sand” (no one will be in power forever)
I Know My Soul
Claude McKay-Petrarchan Italian sonnet-Message: Okay not to know everything if you know your self/your soul-Memorable: beginning examining soul “I plucked my soul out of its secret place and held it to the mirror of my eye”
Countee Cullen (1903-1946)
-early stages of the H.
R., Cullen was the most respected and acclaimed of all the poets-Was very interested in writing in the style of classic English language poets
Countee Cullen-syllabic lines-First part: Nature of Africa: connection to Wordsworth- nature imagery -Second Part: Religious shift- narrator mocking African religion, belongs to Christianity, explores racial tension with white vision of religion -message: narrator should respect his heritage, “Timber that I thought was wet Burning like the dryest flax”-memorable: “What is Africa to me” “Africa? A book one thumbs listlessly”
Langston Hughes (1902-1967)
-Studied at Columbia University for a year, where he was the only black student living on campus, before dropping out to see the world and eventually return to Harlem-explored theme of “Black is Beautiful” and black human condition, unashamedly black
The Negro Speaks of Rivers
Adressed to W.E.B. Du BoisPlot: narrator connecting the deep ties of African Americans through rivers throughout historyTheme: black condition, importance of pastMemorable: My soul has grown deep like the rivers
Plot: biracial man with a white dad who dies in a house and a black mom who dies in a shack , doesn’t know where he is going to die Theme: crossed biracial identity issue, cross as in angry, cross as in Christianity
Plot: Pondering the question: “What happens to a dream deferred?”Theme: problem of inequality in america, if the issue keeps being put off, will it dry up, fester, stink, sag, OR EXPLODE
Plot: “darker brother” is sent away to the kitchen when company comes, but tomorrow he will be at the table and everyone will see how beautiful he is Theme: unashamed beauty of African AmericansMemorable: “I, too, sing America”-dining table symbolizes white supremacy,
Gwendolyn Brooks (1917)
1950 first African American Pulitzer Prize writer winner
We Real Cool
Gwendolyn Brooks-form: broken up, with enjambment with “We”-memorable: “The pool players.
Seen at the Golden Shovel” -step by step inevitable outline of pool players life “left school. lurk late. strike straight. sing sin. thin gin.
jazz june. die soon.”
the sonnet ballad
Gwendolyn Brooks-form: Shakespearean sonnet-War lament: husband cheating on wife with “coquettish death”-memorable: “what i can use an empty heat-cup for”
To the Diaspora
Gwendolyn Brooks-audience: African Americans-message:people should understand their heritage -Africa is part of the individual
a poetic meter that is made up of 5 stressed syllables each followed by an unstressed syllable
Poetry that does not have a regular meter or rhyme scheme
14 lines in iambic pentameter, ABAB CDCD EFEF GG
consists of an octave and a sestet, usually rhyming abbaabba cdecde