Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “American poets”

Poem of the Month: of Roads, Readers, and such


A recent post discussed how David Orr points out how America has misread Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” which I now have stuck in my brain as being titled “Two Roads.” Another discussion could be voting for which should be the real title.

As I add to my Poem of the Day PPT for my students, I came across a Carl Sandburg poem that resonated with Frost’s poem about experience. This led to an article about revisiting poems that have created the cringe factor due to overuse since being introduced to them in elementary school and this led to another poem about connecting with readers. I enjoy this particular poem’s title since it harkens to Bronte’s use of addressing her audience as “Dear Reader,” something we as writers unconsciously do as we include others as we write.

Enjoy this excerpt and follow the link for the entire poem

Dear Reader by Amy Gerstler

Through what precinct of life’s forest are you hiking at this
moment?
Are you kicking up leaf litter or stabbed by brambles?
Of what stuff are you made? Gossamer or chain mail?
Are you, as reputed, marvelously empty? Or invisibly ever-
present,
even as this missive is typed? Have you been to Easter Island?
Yes?
Then I’m jealous. Do you use a tongue depressor as bookmark?

I wonder if Charlotte would have used a tongue depressor as a bookmark?

image: http://www.thefamouspeople.com

Poet Appreciation #9: Wallace Stevens


World War I affected the world in a way that changed forever our outlook on life. Losing 50,000 young men in one day alone, is a travesty of waste. Lost lives, lost dreams, lost generations have a profound impact. One section of the world culture which was touched was that of the artist in all forms. In poetry, the Modernist movement began with its focus on looking at how this brave new world affects us. T.S. Eliot is most frequented with modernist poetry with his offerings such as The Wasteland and The Lovesong ofJ. AlfredPrufrock.

Wallace Stevens

Another poet of that time, Wallace Stevens, is as important as Eliot in his contributions to Modernist poetry, although Eliot seems to pop up first in Modernist contribution conversations. Bio facts of note for Wallace:

  • didn’t get published until he 44
  • attended Harvard, but had to leave due to lack of funds
  • Editor for both of Harvard’s publications
  • His wife the model for the Liberty dime and half-dollar
  • Career primarily as an insurance lawyer
  • Won the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award
  • His poetry collection, Harmonium, ignored by critics when first published, is now highly regarded
  • His home town of Hartford, Connecticut has a walk devoted to his blackbird poem with signs of each section along the way
  • Connoisseur of Asian art

Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock

The houses are haunted
By white night-gowns.
None are green,
Or purple with green rings,
Or green with yellow rings,
Or yellow with blue rings.
None of them are strange,
With socks of lace
And beaded ceintures.
People are not going
To dream of baboons and periwinkles.
Only, here and there, an old sailor,
Drunk and asleep in his boots,
Catches Tigers
In red weather.

Poet Appreciation #2: Edwin Arlington Robinson


English: Portrait of Edwin Arlington Robinson

Portrait of Edwin Arlington Robinson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I vaguely recall reading one or two of Edwin Arlington Robinson’s poetry as I dug through my AP selections. Needless to say, he is not a poet that I am familiar with; however, this gem dropped in my box as a my daily poem offering and it immediately reverberated within me: don’t we all wonder about that abandoned house?

Robinson took his poetry seriously, despite being unable to make a living from it, he persevered. Twice awarded the Pulitzer Prize he still remains relatively unknown, at least I can’t place him in the category of tip-of-the-tongue knowns, like Frost, Dickinson, and Whitman.  Have you heard of him or am I showing my poetry illiteracy once again?

The House on the Hill
by Edwin Arlington Robinson

They are all gone away,      
The House is shut and still,    
There is nothing more to say.

Through broken walls and gray      
The winds blow bleak and shrill:    
They are all gone away.

Nor is there one to-day      
To speak them good or ill:    
There is nothing more to say.

Why is it then we stray      
Around that sunken sill?    
They are all gone away.

And our poor fancy-play      
For them is wasted skill:    
There is nothing more to say.

There is ruin and decay      
In the House on the Hill:    
They are all gone away,
There is nothing more to say.

For a broader perspective of the poem follow this link

I personally am always curious about abandoned houses, or those that seem empty. Yet, there  isn’t a true emptiness, is there as long as houses remain standing, so do the memories. I like how Robinson intimates that though there may be memories, without the people inhabiting the house, there can be no conversations. An empty house is a voiceless house and a house without words is indeed empty.

English: abandoned house

abandoned house (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: