Talking Back to Whitman Family Origins Walt Whitman, arguably America's most influential and innovative poet, was born into a working class family in West Hills on Long Island, on May 31,just thirty years after George Washington was inaugurated as the first president of the newly formed United States. Walt Whitman was named after his father, a carpenter and farmer who was 34 years old when Whitman was born. Trained as a carpenter but struggling to find work, he had taken up farming by the time Walt was born, but when Walt was just about to turn four, Walter Sr.
The figure of Orpheus -- the poet reborn as a god, the fragments of the human reunited as the divine, a transcendent experience that gives power to the self -- is a motif of great resonance for Rukeyser.
Yet, in "The Poem as Mask," she brings her earlier poem into question by deliberate acts of self-criticism, showing that the myth she had so lovingly chosen and carefully shaped is an impediment to her quest. As a woman, she had been unable to affirm her "torn life" -- the loss of love, a dangerous birth, the rescue of self and newborn child.
Her former use of the myth blunted her sense of personal reality; it was a "mask" of covering, not a "masque" of unity and joy.
So she makes a vow at the end of the poem: The new myth comes from within the self, as the orphic experiences in the historical life of the poet that offer inspiration and rebirth.
Annette Kolodny Punning on the multiple meanings of mask and masque, the first stanza owns up to the fact that, in an earlier work her long poem, "Orpheus" , which was itself composed as a masquethe poet had employed forms of disguise, masking both experience and identity, and had thereby diminished true Orphic power.
The disguise, in short, produced only an elaborate entertainment, akin to the ornate but essentially trivial court masques of the seventeenth century.
The maenads tearing Orpheus to pieces is a physical sensation she knows through childbirth; but what she successfully rescued from death, through her own body, was a child rather than a lover. The storehouse of symbolic structures which we call our literary heritage, however, offered neither models nor validation for the importance of that kind of tearing and rescue; only "memory" had preserved the masked truth of the event intact.
And, as the closing lines indicate, this ecstasy, this "aggressive act of truth-telling" also renders Orphic power, as life replaces death and fragments become whole: Now, for the first time, the god lifts his hand, the fragments join in me and with their own music.
From "The Influence of Anxiety: Prolegomena to a Study of the Production of Poetry by Women.
Critical Challenges in Contemporary American Poetry. Marie Harris and Kathleen Aguero. The University of Georgia Press, Through memory, the mortally wounded psyche is healed and rescued with the child, and the god lifts his hand as if Stravinsky himself had orchestrated it, in a new and even stronger and more disturbing mythic rite, this time from the deliberately female vantage point of that cleft speaker, regathered as Orpheus, maenad, and mother.
And the famous exclamations seem more a question of which persona, rather than a dismissal of all personas: In an interview published in by William Packard, when asked specifically about this line, Rukeyser agrees that when it is spoken, "the myth begins again.
Her makeover of the Orpheus legend clearly had two aims: Over many years, Rukeyser strove to take a male myth of the genesis of poetry and recover it for women, thereby to ground herself both theoretically and practically as woman and poet, with neither category ever to subtract energy from the other.
It is a myth that may worry the anti-essentialist feminist.
In "The Poem as Mask" Rukeyser proposes the founding moment of a female self-recognition, and her simultaneous rejection of Orpheus and acquisition of her own voice, as the moment of a violated childbed, when her fertility is attacked in the instance of its expression.
And yet, the female splits; gives birth; and suffering, acquires voice.
Rukeyser in the postwar years is not just scorched, but fired by the experience of birthing and raising a son in the teeth of convention and through ambiguous paternity; fighting for her right even to have this child, she rewrites her creation myth: But the recuperative role that motherhood plays is clear: The new myth is this female body whose wounds produce the Orphic song, its emblem the poet-mother and child.
Against the surgical knife of male cancellation, body and family become female: And perhaps a shouldering aside of the male, except as son, becomes a necessity for a strong woman poet who has just undergone four years of a global conflagration in which militarism sidelined or dismissed or victimized women.The Alliance of Radical Booksellers is delighted to announce the shortlist for the Bread and Roses Award for Radical Publishing Now in its seventh year, the Bread & Roses Award seeks to celebrate excellence in the field of radical political non-fiction.
Video: We Wear the Mask: Summary, Analysis & Theme This lesson will examine Paul Laurence Dunbar's poem, 'We Wear the Mask,' relative to historical context, literary technique, and overall tone. In addition to the terms below, you can use the Table of Contents on the left and the Search Center above it to find the information you are looking for.
Other figures from the civil rights era engaged in civil disobedience as well, though their acts are, perhaps, more subtle. The poet Amiri Baraka, for instance, used his . For over three generations, the Academy has connected millions of people to great poetry through programs such as National Poetry Month, the largest literary celebration in the world; feelthefish.com, the Academy’s popular website; American Poets, a biannual literary journal; and an annual series of poetry readings and special events.
These are some of the many databases available to you as a member of Middletown Thrall Library: Artemis (now Gale Literary Sources) Searches the following databases (described below): Literature Criticism Online, Literature for Students, Literature Resource Center, and Something about the Author.