20th Century Poetry
Robert Frost (1874-1963)
One of Americas popular poets.
Often called the poet of New England.
He attended Dartmouth and Harvard, and graduated from neither. Won four Pulitzer prizes.
He recited a poem at the inauguration of president Kennedy in 1961.
He died in Boston in 1963.
his poems are in normal talking language. They are simple but the ideas are meaningful.
Fire and ice-frost
This poem combines humor, fury and forthrightness in an airtight package. Not a wasted syllable.
is a symbol of passion and desire.
is a symbol of hatred.
Love and passion are described as heat and warmth. Rudeness and hatefulness are described as cold.
The title means that fire is associated with desire or love, while ice means hatred.hatred leads to murder, revenge, and injury. Love can sometimes bring out the worst in people because it is an intense emotion. The speaker of the poem considers the age-old question: how will the world will end He decides that either option (fire and ice) would achieve its purpose.
Examples from ???fire and ice???
Each line ends with ???ire, ice , or ate??? rhymes.
Each line builds up the tension needed for the perfect let down
???stopping by woods on a snowy evening??? -frost
Whose woods these are I think I know.-
The setting is a winters evening in a rural environment .
He will not see me stopping here.- no one is home.
My little horse must think a queer.-
To stop without a farmhouse near.-
He is stopping because it??™s a beautiful scene.
The darkest evening of the year.- its probably December 21st.
It also indicates that all is not well.
He gives his harness bells a shake.-It begins with sounds.
The emphasis of these lines is silence.
The man cant??™ stay around to long.
And miles to go before I sleep,-he has a long journey before he can go to sleep that night.
And miles to go before I sleep.- he has a lot of things to do before he dies.
Born in Illinois
1st volume of poetry was published when he was 38.
Most famous work was a biography of Abraham Lincoln.
Won 2 Pulitzer prizes.
Most of his poems are about farms, working people, city life, and ordinary citizens.
???Cool Tombs??? by Sandburg
Written in free verse-doesn??™t rhyme
The poem alludes to Lincoln, grant, and Pocahontas.
For Sandburg and many northerners, Lincoln was considered one of our greatest presidents.
???copperheads??? were northerners who favored the south in the civil war. The ???assassin??? is John Wilkes Booth.
Sandburg was well aware of the dignity and importance Americans attach to funerals.
Major theme of the poem: after death, there is nothingness.
The body is an empty shell. The person no longer remains.
???in the dust???
God reminds us that we are dust and dust we shall return. Sandburg is emphasizing the idea of the body fading away and rejoining the earth. He does not describe the spirit that carries on.
the impression of the tomb being a soothing, restful spot.
Ulysses S. Grant is mentioned. Former General in the civil war and he was the 17th POTUS.
His presidency was ruined by scandals. He had a lot of personal problems.
Like Lincoln , grant??™s problems ended when he died.
Pocahontas: Sandburg does not speak of her directly. She is described as being similar to nature. She represents the land itself.
focuses on ordinary individuals. It describes everyday. Activities (shopping). It also describes joyous celebrations.
Sandburg does not connect these people to tragedy. They are enjoying daily life. Someday , these people will be dust in the cool tombs.
???jazz fantasia:??? Sandburg
The narrator is trying to say that one does not need a professional instrument or be famous musician because it is about being creative.
???O, Jazzmen.??? it means to let loose and be creative.
Onomatopoeia: using words that sound like their meaning: :husha-husha-hush,???
???bang-bang??? ???hoo-hoo??? this is good for a ???loud??? poem.
Alliteration: ???drum on your drums???, ???batter on ur banjos???, slippery sandpaper???, ???red moon rises???.
The instruments in this poem represent the obstacles in Sandburg??™s life. The poem is a metaphor for Sandburg??™s life.
William Carlos Williams(1883-1963)
Lived much of his life in New Jersey.
Attended Univ. of Pennsylvania Med. School. He was a pediatrician. He
practiced medicine and wrote poetry. Wrote poetry about everyday people and events in life.
???The Great Figure??? (1920)
The central image of this poem is tension, speed, and change.
Symbolic of lots of chaos in modern civilization.
The view is gradually enlarged, from the gold ???5??? on the red
fire truck, and from the truck to hectic movement and nerve
In the end, when the dramatic moment (truck passing) is over,
the truck disappears into the night.
Williams wrote this poem while on the streets of New York.
He saw a Fire truck with the #5 on it.
This is Just to Say (1934)
This poem contains three stanzas, each composed of four short
lines. No line exceeds three words.
Of the 28 words in the poem, 21 are one-syllable words. No punctuation is used.
The pronouns ???I??? and ???me??? designate the narrator/writer and the pronoun ???you??? is the reader of the note.
Williams uses 3 pronouns to refer to the fruit:
1st stanza-3rd line: that???
2nd stanza-1st line: ???which???
3rd stanza- line 10: ???they???
Although two humans exist in the poem , the focus is on the plums.
Stanza 2 is a flashback: the narrator surmises that the reader of the note had saved the plums for breakfast.
The poem is artless-it is in the form of a note.
The poem gives us a rich , sensory pleasure. It leads the senses to taste:
???eaten??? , ???plums,??? ???breakfast???, ???delicious???, ???sweet???, and ???cold???.
1st line of the 3rd stanza:??? forgive me.??? the writer is asking for forgiveness because he ate the plum.
Last 3 lines of 3rd stanza: these lines are exuberant. He is remembering the pleasure of eating the plums.
Theme of the poem:
sensory pleasures are brief.
???At The Ball Game???- Williams (1923)
The title suggests events occurring at a baseball game.
The function of the poem shows a side of the American character that most people would prefer to keep hidden.
The narrator comments on the mood of the crowd as if it were watching a game. We never focus on anyone in particular, just the crows in general.
Line16: the crowd is referred to as ???it.??? it is alive,??? venomous/ it smiles grimly.??? the crowd??™s force is directed at anyone who traditionally stands out in the crowd:??? female and the Jew.???(lines 19/21).
The female and the Jew are discussed and verbally abused. They ???get it straight.??? what they get from the crowd is similar to the inquisition. those who are different then are swept away and put out of sight.
???The Road Not Taken:??? Robert Frost (1916)
This poem is a popular favorite. It seems simple, but it is not very straightforward.
The traveler comes to a fork in the road. He or she must decide which way to continue traveling . One way looks like it had been frequently traveled many times before, and is the safer route to continue down.
However, the other road does not look like it has been used frequently and may be more of a problem to travel.
The road he selects is the ???one less traveled by.??? it suggests the decision is of an individualist. He is a person who is not inclined to follow the crowd.
The speaker of the poem decides to save the most traveled route for later. But , he confesses, he probably never will.
The theme of the poem is about making choices. His choice??? made all the difference???. this suggests that he is either regretting it or it has been beneficial for him.
His poems sought to capture the voices, experiences, emotions, and spirit of African-americans in mid 20th century
???A & P???-1961
This story first appeared in New York Magazine in 1961.
A story about three young girls who walk into a A&P in a town near Boston wearing bathing suits.
They disturb the narrator (Sammy, who is 19 years old)
1) choices and consequences: all of the main characters in the story must make a choice and endure the consequence. Ex. Sammy chooses to quit: He knows this will affect his life for a long time. Sammy was standing up for a principle-he was protesting the way the manager talked to the girls. Ex.3 girls: they suffer the consequences of going to the A&P in their bathing suits. They were reprimanded.
Ex. 3 girls: they suffer the consequence of going to the A&P in their bathing suits. They were reprimanded.
Ex. Lengel (the manager): chooses to confront the girls. He is enforcing the social custom of the time. The consequence is he loses a customer.
20 individualism: Sammy asserts individualism when he quits. He is questioning the local standards. He thinks there is a higher standard- one should not embarrass others. Only ???queenie??? is the only individual of the three girls. The other two are followers.
Catcher in the Rye
1.) Page 1: Holden is in a mental institution in California. January 1950.
2.) Page 2: Holden has a way of identifying a lack of authenticity in others.
3.) Page 3: Holden goes to see Mr. Spencer because he is lonely.
1.) Mr. Spencer tells Holden that life is a game, and you have to follow the rules. Holden doesn??™t feel like a winner.
2.) Mr. Spencer humiliates Holden by reading his exam out loud.
3.) Holden acknowledges that Mr. Spencer cares about him.
1.) Holden is as phony as everyone else. He says he is a big liar.
1.) Stradlater is a secret slob. He hides his faults behind his good looks.
2.) Stadlater has a date with Jane. Jane is Holden??™s old friend. He doesn??™t know her name.
3.) Holden does seem to care about some people.
1.) Holden is inconsistent: He supposedly hates movies, yet, he says he??™s been to the movies with Ackley before. He also recognizes the actors.
2.) Holden??™s brother Allie died of leukemia. Holden only shows affection for Jane and Allie. They are not there. He has no real contact with them.
1.) Holden complained about Stradlater in the car, yet HE once double-dated with Stradlater in that car. Another example of phoniness.
2.) Holden leaves school late Saturday night. ???Sleep tight, ya morons.???
1.) Holden??™s on the train to New York. Meets Mrs. Morrow.
2.) Mrs. Morrow??™s son Emest goes to Pencey.
3.) Holden gives her a fake name, gives her a cigarette, and asks her to have a drink with him. Another example of holden setting himself up for failure.
4.) Holden requires authenticity from people, yet he is phony himself.
5.) Holden tries to impress Mrs. Morrow with his maturity, but he comes off awkward.
1.) Holden ask the cab driver about the ducks in the pond. Where do they go He is concerned about them. Symbolic of Holden worrying about his survival.
2.) Holden sees people in the other rooms while looking out the window. They are acting strange. Holden cannot accept the fact that people are tainted.
3.) Holden doesn??™t realize that he is tainted.
1.) Holden tries to impress the girls he meets in the bar. He lies about his age and he tells the girl he saw Gary Cooper.
1.) Holden is asked by the elevator operator if he wants a prostitute. He says yes
2.) Holden checks his breath. He had been drinking and smoking. Symbolizes corruption.
3.) Holden admits to us that he is a virgin. Owning up to a weakness.
4.) Holden is confused but moral-he is a virgin, but feels he needs to be experienced when he gets married.
1.) Holden gets in trouble with Maurice. He is being cheated out of $5. Then more Holden talked, the worse it got.
2.) Maurice punches Holden.