American Poetry, TCU

Walt Whitman
-Father of American Poetry-believed cultural independence required a new set of values (Transvaluation)Poems-One’s-Self I Sing-Song of Myself-leaves of grass (preface)

Emily Dickinson
-Mother of American Poetry-Use of Metaphor-Microscopic focus-Presented new ideas about womanhood-lived in IsolationPoems#303 (“The Soul Selects…'”), #435 (“Much Madness”), #465 (“I Heard a Fly Buzz…

“), #632 (“The Brain- is wider…”), #1129 (“Tell all the Truth.

..”), Letter 261 (“Thank You for the Surgery”)

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Robert Frost
Poems”The Road Not Taken, ” “Mending Wall, ” “Design, ” “The Need of Being Versed in Country Things, ” “For Once, Then, Something, ” ” The Figure a Poem Makes” (essay)

William Carlos Williams
“The Young Housewife,” “The Red Wheel Barrel”

Ezra Pound
“In a Station of the Metro”

T.S. Eliot
-Use of allusions -Self as a composite”Tradition and the Individual Talent” (essay), “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

Wallace Stevens
“Anecdote of a Jar, ” “A Postcard from the Volcano, ” “The Idea of Order at Key West, ” “The Snow Man, ” “Study of Two Pears,” Section 1.1.

of “Notes Towards a Supreme Fiction,” “The Death of a Soldier,” selected aphorisms from “Adagia”

Langston Hughes
-New Negro -Crossing the class divide means crossing a values divide-Don’t go into middle class and forget to speak for your culturePoems”The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” “Song for a Dark Girl,” “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” (essay)

Jean Toomer
“Portrait in Georgia”

Claude McKay
“The Lynching”

Mina Loy
“The Feminist Manifesto” (essay)

Gwendolyn Brooks
“A Song in the Front Yard,” “Sadie and Maud”

Lucille Clifton
“homage to my hips,” “poem to my uterus,” “to my last period,” “the Mississippi river empties into the gulf”

Leaves of Grass (Preface) – Important quotes
By Walt Whitman”The United states themselves are essentially the greatest poem””The greatest poet hardly knows pettiness or triviality.””A great poem is for ages and ages in common, and for all degrees and complexions, and all departments and sects and for a woman as much as a man””A great poem is no finish to a man or a woman but rather a beginning””This is what you shall do: Love the earth and the sun…

dismiss whatever insults your soul…

in every motion and joint of your body” (see pg 867 for full quote)

Leaves of Grass (preface) – central ideas
-redefining poetry, and thus changing how we see things-America is an act of the imagination -sees how small things participate in the universe-speaks out against fancy language-Poet = seer = everyone-beginning of the process of imagining more/beyond-breaking binaries-great equalizer

Letter 261 (“Thank You for the Surgery”) – Quotes
By Emily dickinson”My mother does not care for thought, and father, too busy with his briefs to notice what we do. He buys me many books, but begs me not to read them because he fears they joggle the mind. They are religious, except me, and address an Eclipse every morning whom they call father.”

Letter 261 (“Thank You for the Surgery”) – central ideas
-Dickinson is describing her home life-We can see the resistance she faced with her pursuits of knowledge-Critiquing religion – eclipse hides the truth

The Figure a Poem Makes” (essay) – Quotes
by Robert Frost”It begins in delight, it inches to the impulse, it assumes direction with the first line laid dow, it runs a course of lucky events, and ends in a clarification of life , not necessarily a great clarification, such a sects and cults are founded on, but in a momentary stay against confusion.”

The Figure a Poem Makes” (essay) – Central ideas
– Reality is chaos-Poems are not about reality, but what the mind does with confrontation of reality-How the mind behaves when interacting with the natural world-Poems are cautionary tails of the mind deceiving itself-poetry offers clarity for only a moment

selected aphorisms from “Adagia” – Quotes
By Wallace Stevens “A final belief is to believe in a fiction, which you know to be fiction, there being nothing else. The exquisite truth is to know that it is a fiction and that you believe in it willingly””It is the believe and not the god that counts””Poetry is a response to the daily necessity of getting the world right””Poetry is a cure for the mind””If the mind is the most terrible force in the world, it is, also, the only force that defends us against terror””The poet represents the mind in the act of defending us against itself”

selected aphorisms from “Adagia” – Central Ideas


“The Feminist Manifesto” (essay) – quotes
By Mina Loy”The man who lives a life in which his activities conform to a social code which is protectorate of the feminine element—-is no longer masculine””The women who adapt themselves to a theoretical valuation of their sex as a relative impersonality, are not yet Feminine””Men & women are enemies, with the enmity of the exploited for the parasite, the parasite for the exploited””the fist self-enforced law for the female sex, as a protection of the man made bogey of virtue—which is the principal instrument of her subjection, would be the unconditional surgical destruction of virginity through-out the female population at puberty””Woman must destroy in themselves, the desire to be loved””The feeling that it is a personal insult when a man transfers his attention from her to another womanThe desire for comfortable protection instead of an intelligent curiosity & courage in meeting & resisting the pressure of life sex or so called love must be reduced to its initial element, honour, grief, sentimentality, pride and & consequently jealousy must be detached from it.”

“The Feminist Manifesto” (essay) – Central Ideas
-Men and women are too different to be compared-radicle, but our lives are products of radicle thought = there is a method to her madness-she is pointing out the social and economic consequences for love-we need to stop defining ourselves in arms of the other

“Tradition and the Individual Talent” (essay) – Quotes
By T.

S. Eliot”We dwell with satisfaction upon the poet’s difference from his predecessors, especially his immediate predecessors; we endeavour to find something that can be isolated in order to be enjoyed””No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists. You cannot value him alone; you must set him, for contrast and comparison, among the dead.””Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality”

“Tradition and the Individual Talent” (essay) – central Ideas
-values of the past have been shattered, but they still exist. What you’re resembling can never be the same-Breaking the binary that individuality is better that tradition. -Interpersonal theory approach – extinction of personality????-critiques romanticisme because it ignores the relationship of history to the broader culture.

“The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” (essay) – Quotes
By Langston Hughes “”I want to be a poet–not a Negro poet,” meaning, I believe, “I want to write like a white poet”; meaning subconsciously, “I would like to be a white poet”; meaning behind that, “I would like to be white.

“””The children go to a mixed school. In the home they read white papers and magazines. And the mother often says “Don’t be like ni**ers” when the children are bad. A frequent phrase from the father is, “Look how well a white man does things.” And so the word white comes to be unconsciously a symbol of all virtues.””Father is often dark but he has usually married the lightest woman he could find””For racial culture the home of a self-styled “high-class” Negro has nothing better to offer.

Instead there will perhaps be more aping of things white than in a less cultured or less wealthy home.”

“The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” (essay) – central ideas
-Crossing the class divide means crossing a values divide – that is embracing the values of white america-Don’t go into middle class and forget to speak for your culture-is the new negro the middle class negro?-creates divide between blacks

-A binary is dividing something into two parts, and deciding that one is better than the other. So men over women, or good over bad. -the poets of the time sought to break these binaries because they extremely limit what a person or a culture is capable of doing or thinking. -breaking or binaries is the first step to social change and innovation-Whitman, Eliot, Clifton

Changing attitudes toward nature from the late 19th C to the early 20th C
-Transition from romanticism to modernism

Cult of True Womanhood
-The cult of true womanhood sought to assert that a woman’s virtue resided in piety, purity, submissiveness, and domesticity.

-piety, which is religiousness, piety did not take women away from their proper sphere, unlike participation in other social activities. Religion was so important that women were warned not to let their literary and intellectual pursuits to take them away from God (Dickinson). Purity was also important. Purity meaning both remaining a virgin until marriage, but also being pure in thought.

Submissiveness was always expected. So much so that women were urged not to feel or act for themselves. And finally domesticity was seen as crucial because a woman’s sphere was the home, and it was seen as her primary job to take care of the children and her husband.-Godey’s Lady book – the cosmo of the 19th C

New Woman of the 19th and 20th centuries
-first wave of feminism-employment opportunities (pink collar workforce)-education opportunities -reserved for those of high class

Intellectual and spiritual crisis of the 19th and 20th century
Darwin – theory of evolution – contradicts creation, and the beliefs of the bible – spiritual crisis Marx – “religion is the opium of the masses” – will of the church is called into questionFreud – Pleasure principle – fractures the idea that the soul is pure Einstein – theory of relativity – truth is open ended, there is no absolute truth

-Celebrates individual and common experiences-Celebrates imagination over reason -Self as pure and continuous(?) with nature-nature as site and source of religious experience-reality is knowable-reaction against industrial revolution-Whitman, Dickinson,

-individualism is isolation -consciousness/perception-art as source of religious experiences -self as impediment to more complete perception-reality is unknowable -radical break in art-Frost, williams, Eliot, Pound, Stevens

Art as a substitute for religion

Modernist View of the self
-Modernist critique romanticism because they see the self as an impediment that gets in the way of true perception-Must look past self-reality is fragmented

Self as necessary fiction for Blacks and Women
-because they were always oppressed, there was no precedent for what they wanted-had to completely imagine their freedom/rights -thus it was necessary for a new fiction to be created to be the base of what we know today-So, for example, the idea that women could go to university was a fiction that did not exist until someone thought it up in the 19th C-the high modernist, who were all white, and just did poetry in their time, did not need a fiction because they already had one to go off of. so they did not have to imagine themselves doing something because they already freedom/rights.

Modernist poetry and the problems of perception
-self as impediment to more complete perception-Frost – “For Once then Something” – had to look past self (his reflection) in order to see “something.”-but it is just something, because reality is unknowable-Pound – Imagist movement – removal of self in even the writing of the poem – “In a Station of the Metro” – in order to allow reader to have a better perception and find meaning on their own. -Stevens – Self is a fiction – you can never know reality – “you must become an ignorant man again” (let go of Edu and religion etc.) (pg256) – or else you won’t be able to fully grasp reality, thus self is an impediment

capacities and limitations of the Imagination

Lawrence Ferlinghetti
“The poet, by definition, is an enemy of the state.”-Poets present new ideas-Poets challenge the status quo-The “state” or the people in power would not like thins because they benefit from the status quo-ideas can be radicle

“Metaphor reveals the mind of the metaphor-maker.”
Metaphor – tangible used to understand the intangible, known used to understand the unknown.

-we can’t speak to a universal truth (because everyone has a different understanding of the truth) so metaphor is used by the speaker to make the audience understand what he/she is thinking. Make how he/she feels more understandable to the speaker

Common Cultural Memory in African-American poetry
-New Negro is Without precedent – without recorded history – slaves did not know where they came from – family separated, could not trace lineage.-Poetry was used to create a common cultural memory, and show the AA community who they were, and the great history they have.-Negro Speaks the river – Langston Hughes -“Negro Soul” – “My should has grown deep like the rivers” – soul was part of every major movement in history – Euphrates, pyramids, slave trade.-“Song For a Dark Girl” (Hughes)/The Lynching (McKay)/Portrait in Georgia (Toomer)-All three of these poems are about lynching, and create a cultural memory of what lynching was really like. everyone can be on the same page. insight into an event we could never understand.

the male & female body and new ideas of gender, race, and sexuality.

-The way we experience the world is very closely tied to how we view our bodies. -“Song For a Dark Girl” (Hughes)/Portrait in Georgia (Toomer)-Beauty is culturally determined -love is culturally determined

How African American and women poets found meaning in their own particular experience of Modernist alienation
A song in the front yard/Sadie and maud Both by Brooks”Maud went to college/Sadie stayed home/Sadie scraped life/With a fine toothed comb” (SAM)”Maud, who went to college/Is a thin brown mouse.She is living all alone/In this old house” (SAM)”I’ve stayed in the front yard all my life/I want a peek at the back” (ASITFY)”And I’d like to be a bad woman, too/And wear the brave stockings of night-black lace/And strut down the streets with paint on my face” (ASITFY)-Critique of the white middle class-life in the (white) middle class is lifeless-Questioning the values of the white middle class-breaking binaries-Asserting that there is value in the African community/values

Adopting identity to explore an experience the author did not have

-Distinctly European-three quatrains and a coupletABBA, CDDC, EFFE, GG-1st quatrain – Issue-2nd/3rd quatrain – complication -couplet – effort at resolution

In a station of the metro
By Ezra Pound”The apparition of these faces in the crowd;Petals on a wet, black bough.”-Imagist-Omits elaboration, evaluation, and symbols-creates opportunities for reader to participate and make meaning

One’s Self I sing/Song of Myself
By Whitman- breaking binaries:life=death “has any one supposed it lucky to be born? I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die”Good=evil, “nor any more heaven or hell than there is now”Mankind=God, “the should is not more than the body” -Political democracy requires a change in values and a spiritual transformation-nothing is subordinate-cycle of the universe

#303 (“The Soul Selects…'”)
By Dickinson- “The soul selects her own society/then shuts the door/ to her divine majority/ present no more”-“Choose one/then close the valves of her attention/ like stone”-poem reflect Dickinson’s social choices, that is the choices she had to make to live the way she did-She chose to go against the cult of true womanhood, and closed herself off from damnation

#435 (“Much Madness”)
By Dickinson”Much Madness is divinest Sense/To a discerning Eye/Much Sense—the starkest Madness””Assent and you are sane/Demur you’re straightway dangerous/And handled with a Chain”-Women wanting more rights in hysteria/madness

#465 (“I Heard a Fly Buzz.


By Dickinson-Dickinson takes on a persona-rejecting piety – expression of spiritual doubt-“I could not see to see” – sentence is uncompleted, hoping to see king, only sees fly at last moment

#632 (“The Brain- is wider..


By Dickinson”The brain is just the weight of God/For, lift them, pound for pound/And they will differ, if they do/As syllable from sound.”-Interdependence-God needs our brains as much as our brains need god

#1129 (“Tell all the Truth…”)
By Dickinson”Tell the truth but tell it slant/Success in circuit lies”-Talk around the truth -dont shock people with it all at once, they will reject the message

“Mending Wall”
By Robert Frost “Good fences make good neighbors””Something there is that doesn’t love a wall”-truth = blind adherence (quoted wisdom, boy simply following what his father told him )-Nature is “something” that does not like man-made stuff-Humanity’s truth vs. nature

“The Road Not Taken”
By Frost-Persona – it is not frost-No substantial difference between two roads-love poem to the road he did not take-Knows he is going to force the truth when he tells the story”I shall be telling this with a sigh/Somewhere ages and ages hence:/Two roads diverged in a wood, and I/I took the one less traveled by/And that has made all the difference.”

The Red Wheelbarrow
By Williams”so much depends/upon/a red wheel/barrow/glazed with rain/water/beside the white/chickens.

“-So much depends on the ordinary-look at things w/o our standard set of evaluations-romantic subject with modern idea

“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”
By T.S. Eliot”In the room the women come and go/Talking of Michelangelo””I am no prophet, and heres no great matter””I am Lazarus””No! I am not Prince Hamlet””I have heard he mermaids singing”-About an insecure old man going to a place to meet women-Allusions show the broader human context – he is not the first person to feel this way. (History, referenced in his essay)-self as a composite of Allusions-Self as unstable-Persona

“The Snow Man, ” “Study of Two Pears,” Section 1.

1. of “Notes Towards a Supreme Fiction,” “The Death of a Soldier,”

All by Stevens -All support the idea that reality is unknowable

“The Idea of Order at Key West, “
By Stevens”No more was she/The song and water were not medleyed sound/Even if what she sang was what she heard””For she was the maker of the song she sang/The ever-hooded, tragic-gestured sea/Was merely a place by which she walked to sing””She was the single artificer of the world/In which she sang. And when she sang, the sea,/Whatever self it had, became the self/That was her song, for she was the maker”-Ocean is reality, woman is imagination-there is no world outside of the one we imagine and give life to-everything we believe to be true is a fiction-Ocean is meaningless, until woman come around and uses imagination to give it meaning-Supports the idea hat imagination is supreme

A postcard from the volcano
By Stevens”we left much more, left what still is/the look of things”-Imagination = molten lava = fact -Fact = leaving of imagination that came before us-Fact = Fiction

“A Song in the Front Yard,” “Sadie and Maud”
Both by Brooks”Maud went to college/Sadie stayed home/Sadie scraped life/With a fine toothed comb” (SAM)”Maud, who went to college/Is a thin brown mouse.She is living all alone/In this old house” (SAM)”I’ve stayed in the front yard all my life/I want a peek at the back” (ASITFY)”And I’d like to be a bad woman, too/And wear the brave stockings of night-black lace/And strut down the streets with paint on my face” (ASITFY)-Critique of the white middle class-life in the (white) middle class is lifeless-Questioning the values of the white middle class-breaking binaries

By Sylvia Plath”An elephant, a ponderous house””Money’s new minted in this fat purse””I’m a means, a stage, a cow in calf””Ive boarded the train there is no getting off”-Baby is the new money, and has the most value-mom is the disposable purse -Plath’s ambivalence about pregnancy-She is simply a means to an end/a stage in the process-no going back-Encouragement to be thrilled is a social construct

By Sylvia Plath”The tulips are too excitable””I have given my name and my day-clothes up to the nurses/And my history to the anesthetist and my body to surgeons””I am sick of baggage””My husband and child smiling out of the family photo; Their smiles catch onto my skin, little smiling hooks””They have swabbed me celar of my loving associations””I didn’t want any flowers, I only wanted/To lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty./How free it is, you have no idea how free/The peacefulness is so big it dazes you””The Tulips are too resin the first place, they hurt me””Nobody watched me before, now I am watched”-Ambivalence of -Being drugged in a hospital is better than her family-she longs for death to escape

[I Shall Forget You Presently, My Dear]
By Edna Millay”I shall forget you presently, my dear/So make the most of this, your little day/Your little month, your little half a year””If you entreat me with your loveliest lie/I will protest you with my favorite vow.””Whether or not we find what we are seekingIs idle, biologically speaking.”-Biology has no need for love-Love is a social game -love is a fiction-Dont be offended when one turns their attention to someone else (Feminist manifesto – Loy)

[I, Being Born Woman and Distressed]
By Edna Millay”I, being born a woman and distressed/By all the needs and notions of my kind””To clarify the pulse and cloud the mind/And leave me once again undone, possessed””I shall remember you with love, or season/My scorn with pity, —let me make it plain:/I find this frenzy insufficient reason/For conversation when we meet again”-Desire is insufficient for a relationship-To be married is to be possessed

“homage to my hips,” “poem to my uterus”
By Clifton”where can i go/barefoot /without you/where can you go/without me” (PTMU)”you uterus/you have been patient” (PTMU)-Both poems celebrate the female body