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IDIOSYNCRATIC POETS

IDIOSYNCRATIC POETS - Лекция, раздел Лингвистика, Курс лекций по предмету романо-германская филология P Oets Who Have Developed Unique Styles Drawing On Tradi...

P oets who have developed unique styles drawing on tradition but extending it into new realms with a distinctively contemporary flavor, in addition to Plath and Sexton, include John Berryman, Theodore Roethke, Richard Hugo, Philip Levine, James Dickey, Elizabeth Bishop, and Adrienne Rich.

Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)


Sylvia Plath lived an outwardly exemplary life, attending Smith College on scholarship, graduating first in her class, and winning a Fulbright grant to Cambridge University in England. There she met her charismatic husband-to-be, poet Ted Hughes, with whom she had two children and settled in a country house in England. Beneath the fairy-tale success festered unresolved psychological problems evoked in her highly readable novel The Bell Jar (1963). Some of these problems were personal, while others arose from repressive 1950s attitudes toward women. Among these were the beliefs -- shared by most women themselves -- that women should not show anger or ambitiously pursue a career, and instead find fulfillment in tending their husbands and children. Successful women like Plath lived a contradiction.

Plath's storybook life crumbled when she and Hughes separated and she cared for the young children in a London apartment during a winter of extreme cold. Ill, isolated, and in despair, Plath worked against the clock to produce a series of stunning poems before she committed suicide by gassing herself in her kitchen. These poems were collected in the volume Ariel (1965), two years after her death. Robert Lowell, who wrote the introduction, noted her poetry's rapid development from the time she and Anne Sexton had attended his poetry classes in 1958. Plath's early poetry is well-crafted and traditional, but her late poems exhibit a desperate bravura and proto-feminist cry of anguish. In "The Applicant" (1966), Plath exposes the emptiness in the current role of wife (who is reduced to an inanimate "it"):

A living doll, everywhere you look.
It can sew, it can cook.
It can talk, talk, talk.

It works, there is nothing wrong with it.
You have a hole, it's a poultice.
You have an eye, it's an image.
My boy, it's your last resort.
Will you marry it, marry it, marry it.

Plath dares to use a nursery rhyme language, a brutal directness. She has a knack for using bold images from popular culture. Of a baby she writes, "Love set you going like a fat gold watch." In "Daddy," she imagines her father as the Dracula of cinema: "There's a stake in your fat black heart / And the villagers never liked you."

Anne Sexton (1928-1974)

Like Plath, Anne Sexton was a passionate woman who attempted to be wife, mother, and poet on the eve of the women's movement in the United States. Like Plath, she suffered from mental illness, and ultimately committed suicide. Sexton's confessional poetry is more autobiographical than Plath's and lacks the craftedness Plath's earlier poems exhibit. Sexton's poems appeal powerfully to the emotions, however. They thrust taboo subjects such as sex, guilt, and suicide into close focus. Often they daringly introduce female topics such as childbearing, the female body, or marriage seen from a female point of view. In poems like "Her Kind" (1960), Sexton identifies with a witch burned at the stake:

I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.

The titles of her works indicate their concern with madness and death. They include To Bedlam and Part Way Back (1960), Live or Die (1966), and the posthumous book The Awful Rowing Toward God (1975).

John Berryman (1914-1972)

John Berryman's life parallels Robert Lowell's in some respects. Born in Oklahoma, he was educated in the Northeast -- at prep school and at Columbia University, and later was a fellow at Princeton University. Specializing in traditional forms and meters, he was inspired by early American history and wrote self- critical, confessional poems in his Dream Songs (1969), which feature a grotesque autobiographical character named Henry and reflections on his own teaching routine, chronic alcoholism, and ambition.

Like his contemporary, Theodore Roethke, Berryman developed a supple, playful, but profound style enlivened by phrases from folklore, children's rhymes, cliché, and slang. Berryman writes, of Henry, "He stared at ruin. Ruin stared straight back." Elsewhere, he wittily writes, "Oho alas alas / When will indifference come, I moan and rave."

Theodore Roethke (1908-1963)

The son of a greenhouse owner, Theodore Roethke evolved a special language evoking the "greenhouse world" of tiny insects and unseen roots: "Worm, be with me. / This is my hard time." His love poems in Words for the Wind (1958) celebrate beauty and desire with innocent passion: One poem begins "I knew a woman, lovely in her bones, / When small birds sighed, she would sigh back at them." Sometimes his poems seem like nature's shorthand or ancient riddles: "Who stunned the dirt into noise? / Ask the mole, he knows."

Richard Hugo (1923-1982)

Richard Hugo, a native of Seattle, Washington, studied under Theodore Roethke. He grew up poor in dismal urban environments and excelled at communicating the hopes, fears, and frustrations of working people against the backdrop of the northwestern United States. Hugo wrote nostalgic, confessional poems in bold iambics about shabby, forgotten small towns in his part of the United States; he wrote of shame, failure, and rare moments of acceptance through human relationships. He focused the reader's attention on minute, seemingly inconsequential details in order to make more significant points. "What Thou Lovest Well, Remains American" (1975) ends with a person carrying memories of his old hometown as if they were food:

in case you're stranded in some odd
empty town
and need hungry lovers for friends,
and need feel
you are welcome in the street club
they have formed.

Philip Levine (1928- )

Philip Levine, born in Detroit, Michigan, deals directly with the economic sufferings of workers through keen observation, rage, and painful irony. Like Hugo, his background is urban and poor. He has been the voice for the lonely individual caught up in industrial America. Much of his poetry is somber and reflects an anarchic tendency amid the realization that systems of government will endure.

In one poem, Levine likens himself to a fox who survives in a dangerous world of hunters through his courage and cunning. In terms of his rhythmic pattern, he has traveled a path from traditional meters in his early works to a freer, more open line in his later poetry as he expresses his lonely protest against the evils of the contemporary world.

James Dickey (1923- )

James Dickey, a novelist and essayist as well as poet, is a native of Georgia. By his own reflection, he believes that the major theme in his work is the continuity that exists -- or must exist -- between the self and the world. Much of his writing is rooted in nature -- rivers and mountains, weather patterns, and the perils lurking within.

In the late 1960s, Dickey began working on a novel, Deliverance, about the dark side of male bonding, which, when published and later filmed, increased his renown. His recent collections of verse deal with such varied themes as the landscape of the South (Jericho: The South Beheld, 1974) and the influence of the Bible on his life (God's Images, 1977). Dickey is often concerned with effort: "Outdoing, desperately / Outdoing what is required."

Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979) and Adrienne Rich (1929- )
Among women poets of the idiosyncratic group, Elizabeth Bishop and Adrienne Rich have garnered the most respect in recent years. Bishop's crystalline intelligence and interest in remote landscapes and metaphors of travel appeal to readers for their exactitude and subtlety. Like her mentor Marianne Moore, Bishop, who never married, wrote highly crafted poems in a cool, descriptive style that contains hidden philosophical depths. The description of the ice-cold North Atlantic in "At the Fishhouses" could apply to Bishop's own poetry: "It is like what we imagine knowledge to be: / dark, salt, clear, moving, utterly free."

With Moore, Bishop may be placed in a "cool" female poetic tradition harking back to Emily Dickinson, in comparison with the "hot" poems of Plath, Sexton, and Adrienne Rich. Though Rich began by writing poems in traditional form and meter, her works, particularly those written after she became an ardent feminist in the 1960s, embody strong emotions. Her special genius is the metaphor, as in her extraordinary work "Diving Into the Wreck" (1973), evoking a woman's search for identity in terms of diving down to a wrecked ship. The wreck is like the wreckage of women s selfhood, the speaker suggests; women must find their way through male-dominated realms. Rich's poem "The Roofwalker" (1961), dedicated to poet Denise Levertov, imagines poetry writing, for women, as a dangerous craft. Like men building a roof, she feels "exposed, larger than life, / and due to break my neck."

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Early American and Colonial Period to 1776
  American literature begins with the orally transmitted myths, legends, tales, and lyrics (always songs) of Indian cultures. There was no written literature amon

THE LITERATURE OF EXPLORATION
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THE COLONIAL PERIOD IN NEW ENGLAND
It is likely that no other colonists in the history of the world were as intellectual as the Puritans. Between 1630 and 1690, there were as many university graduates in the nor

LITERATURE IN THE SOUTHERN AND MIDDLE COLONIES
Pre-revolutionary southern literature was aristocratic and secular, reflecting the dominant social and economic systems of the southern plantations. Early English immigrants were drawn to th

Democratic Origins and Revolutionary Writers, 1776-1820
  The hard-fought American Revolution against Britain (1775-1783) was the first modern war of liberation against a colonial power. The triumph of American indepen

THE AMERICAN ENLIGHTENMENT
The 18th-century American Enlightenment was a movement marked by an emphasis on rationality rather than tradition, scientific inquiry instead of unquestioning religious dogma,

NEOCLASSISM: EPIC, MOCK EPIC, AND SATIRE
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WRITERS OF FICTION
The first important fiction writers widely recognized today, Charles Brockden Brown, Washington Irving, and James Fenimore Cooper, used American subjects, historical perspectiv

WOMEN AND MINORITIES
Although the colonial period produced several women writers of note, the revolutionary era did not further the work of women and minorities, despite the many schools, magazines

Other Women Writers
A number of accomplished revolutionary-era women writers have been rediscovered by feminist scholars. Susanna Rowson (c. 1762- 1824) was one of America's first professional novelists. Her seven nov

The Romantic Period, 1820-1860: Essayists and Poets
  The Romantic movement, which originated in Germany but quickly spread to England, France, and beyond, reached America around the year 1820, some 20 years after

TRANSCENDENTALISM
The Transcendentalist movement was a reaction against 18th century rationalism and a manifestation of the general humanitarian trend of 19th century thought. The movement was b

THE BRAHMIN POETS
In their time, the Boston Brahmins (as the patrician, Harvard-educated class came to be called) supplied the most respected and genuinely cultivated literary arbiters of the Un

TWO REFORMERS
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The Romantic Period, 1820-1860: Fiction
  W alt Whitman, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, and the Transcendentalists represent the first great literary generation

THE ROMANCE
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WOMEN WRITERS AND REFORMERS
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The Rise of Realism: 1860-1914
  T he U.S. Civil War (1861-1865) between the industrial North and the agricultural, slave-owning South was a watershed in American history. The innocent optimism

FRONTIER HUMOR AND REALISM
T wo major literary currents in 19th-century America merged in Mark Twain: popular frontier humor and local color, or "regionalism." These related literary approaches

LOCAL COLORISTS
L ike frontier humor, local color writing has old roots but produced its best works long after the Civil War. Obviously, many pre-war writers, from Henry David Thoreau and Nath

MIDWESTERN REALISM
F or many years, the editor of the important Atlantic Monthly magazine, William Dean Howells (1837-1920), published realistic local color writing by Bret Harte, Mark Twa

COSMOPOLITAN NOVELISTS
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NATURALISM AND MUCKRAKING
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THE "CHICAGO SCHOOL" OF POETRY
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TWO WOMEN REGIONAL NOVELISTS
N ovelists Ellen Glasgow (1873-1945) and Willa Cather (1873-1947) explored women's lives, placed in brilliantly evoked regional settings. Neit

THE RISE OF BLACK AMERICAN LITERATURE
T he literary achievement of African-Americans was one of the most striking literary developments of the post-Civil War era. In the writings of Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du

Modernism and Experimentation: 1914-1945
  M any historians have characterized the period between t

MODERNISM
T he large cultural wave of Modernism, which gradually emerged in Europe and the United States in the early years of the 20th century, expressed a sense of modern life through

POETRY 1914-1945: EXPERIMENTS IN FORM
Ezra Pound (1885-1972) Ezra Pound was one of the most influential American poets of this century. From 1908 to 1920, he resided in London, where he associated with many wr

BETWEEN THE WARS
Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962) Numerous American poets of stature and genuine vision arose in the years between the world wars, among them poets from the West Coast, women, and

PROSE WRITING, 1914-1945: AMERICAN REALISM
A lthough American prose between the wars experimented with viewpoint and form, Americans wrote more realistically, on the whole, than did Europeans. Novelist Ernest Hemingway

NOVELS OF SOCIAL AWARENESS
S ince the 1890s, an undercurrent of social protest had coursed through American literature, welling up in the naturalism of Stephen Crane and Theodore Dreiser and in the clear

THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE
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LITERARY CURRENTS: THE FUGITIVES AND NEW CRITICISM
F rom the Civil War into the 20th century, the southern United States had remained a political and economic backwater ridden with racism and superstition, but, at the same time

TH-CENTURY AMERICAN DRAMA
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American Poetry Since 1945: The Anti-Tradition
  A shift away from an assumption that traditional forms, ideas, and history can provide meaning and continuity to human life has occurred in the contemporary lit

TRADITIONALISM
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EXPERIMENTAL POETRY
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The Black Mountain School
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The San Francisco School
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Beat Poets
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The New York School
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Surrealism and Existentialism
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WOMEN AND MULTIETHNIC POETS
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Chicano/Hispanic/Latino Poetry
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Native American Poetry
Native Americans have written fine poetry, most likely because a tradition of shamanistic song plays a vital role in their cultural heritage. Their work excels in vivid, living evocations of the na

African-American Poetry
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NEW DIRECTIONS
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American Prose Since 1945: Realism and Experimentation
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THE REALIST LEGACY AND THE LATE 1940s
A s in the first half of the 20th century, fiction in the second half reflects the character of each decade. The late 1940s saw the aftermath of World War II and the beginning

THE AFFLUENT BUT ALIENATED 1950s
T he 1950s saw the delayed impact of modernization and technology in everyday life, left over from the 1920s -- before the Great Depression. World War II brought the United Sta

THE TURBULENT BUT CREATIVE 1960s
T he alienation and stress underlying the 1950s found outward expression in the 1960s in the United States in the Civil Rights Movement, feminism, antiwar protests, minority ac

THE 1970s AND 1980s: NEW DIRECTIONS
B y the mid-1970s, an era of consolidation began. The Vietnam conflict was over, followed soon afterward by U.S. recognition of the People's Republic of China and America's Bic

THE NEW REGIONALISM
T here is nothing new about a regional tradition in American literature. It is as old as the Native American legends, as evocative as the works of James Fenimore Cooper and Bre

List of Books on American Literature
1. W. Irving. Rip van Winkle 2. E.A. Poe.The Fall of the House of Usher 3. M. Twain.The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Exam questions on American literature
1. Early American and colonial period. 2. Revolutionary literature. The American Enlightenment. 3. The creative work of W. Irving. 4. The creative work of J. F. Cooper.

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