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Breaking Free of Tradition. Poetry

Early American Poetry

Poetic tradition in America followed that in Britain for nearly 200 years. The Puritan poets, like Anne Bradstreet and Edward Taylor, likened their work to the British metaphysical poets, and followed in the footsteps of Milton, Spenser and Donne, among others. Their poetry was highly didactic, mostly for use in teaching Puritan ethics. Bradstreet, the first published American poet, broke from it in some ways, merely because she was female, and it was considered that she should devote herself to home and family.

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“In “The Prologue” (1650), Bradstreet writes, “I am obnoxious to each carping tongue / Who says my hand a needle better fits, / [than] A poet’s pen.…” Bradstreet’s instincts were to love this world more than the promised next world of Puritan theology, and her struggle to overcome her love for the world of nature energizes her poetry.” (Miller, Wendell 2009) Miller (2009) notes that the colonial poets mostly circulated their work privately, like poetic letters, so the writing was more private work. Taylor’s work was very meditative. “In ‘God’s Determinations Touching His Elect’ (written 1680?), one of Taylor’s most important works, he celebrates God’s power in the triumph of good over evil in the human soul.” (Miller, Wendell 2009)

We must remember that the colonists were considered to be lower class for more than 200 years by the British and many critics thought American literature was nonexistent. However. American poets, such as Ebenezer Cook and Richard Lewis, were known to poke back at the British snobbery, as in the poem The Sot-Weed Factor (1708) However, by the time of the American Revolution, the poetry got more serious, almost lambasting British poets, and celebrating independence and the new American ideals in epic poetry, still following British forms, however.

Phillip Freneau, The Rising Glory of America (1772)and Barlow’s The Vision of Columbus (1787) were examples of revolutionary poetry. Phyllis Wheatly was one of the most important early black poets, who remained mostly unknown until the twentieth century. She also followed British poetics tradition, but expressed her frustration at her station as a slave, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773), published in England. Other poems by early black poets were not published until the nineteenth century.

Nineteenth Century Innovation

It really wasn’t until the mid-nineteenth century that an American tradition began to emerge with the new poetics of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickenson. Leaves of Grass (1855)broke tradition in both content and form. Whitman stepped out of the Victorian modesty into bold American frank expression and praise of things unmentionable before. In it he praised the body and the senses in a most immodest manner.

Dickenson wrote volumes, but most were ‘self published’ in manuscript books she mailed to correspondents during her life time. Most of her work was not publicly published until after her death. She began writing in traditional styles, but as time passed, Dickenson played with form and content, altering meter and rhyme schemes, developing her own distinctive style. She also added visual elements that contemporary readers of ordinary printed copies of her poetry did not see until they were published as written originally.

The Fireside Poets followed, called so because they often used this as a symbol of family unity and home. William Cullen Bryant, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, Oliver Wendell Holmes and John Greenleaf Whittier were the most prominent of these and Longfellow was the most popular. They created an American epic style which equaled the British poetry forms and, more or less, put American poetry on its own multiple feet. They were followed by the Abolitionist poets, both black and white, and some became part of this tradition.

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The Twentieth Century Opened New Doors

By the last part of the 19th century, regional schools began to spring up, including the black poets, like Dunbar, who was the most prominent of the dialect poets. Other poets, like Masters and Robinson represented their own regions. Robert Frost is often thought of as the New England poet. Frost seems to have tried all the different forms over his career, but then developed his own blank verse, using a conversational meter, mostly plain words of simple conversational English and centered around simple themes and subjects, many of which dealt with nature.

His work was likely the largest break with traditional poetry in the history of American poetry, and he was a bridge to the modernist American poetry of poets like Pound, Eliot, Williams, Hughes and many more. These poets still used some parts of traditional form, but poetry suddenly blossomed off the standard columned page. They wrote in free verse without any forced rhyme in a conversational rhythm, and poets like Langston Hughes experimented with different voices and dialects, sometimes using two or more within the same poem, as in Weary Blues (1926), adding oral tradition to standard English writing to create almost a conversation between his two heritages. This set the stage for the modernist poets, who experimented with form, sound and content.

These modernist poets explored visual and sound cues, with William Carlos Williams painting with words and Pound and Eliot using sound to create musical poetic schemes almost as modern ballads with punctuated drums. Gertrude Stein delved deeply into language and its various aspects and meanings to self. Poets like Marianne Moore began to experiment with forms until they explored all the different ways poems could be created. These were carefully created and new, often strict, forms followed.

The middle of the twentieth century saw a lot of change as poets branched out into new territory. Poetry exploded in many different direction and schools, until mid-century when innovative poets began to imitate themselves. Then suddenly the Confessional Poets appeared on the scene, bringing with them a more introspective, and frankly expressive of their reality, style which moved poetry into a new role. They were the first generation to teach the writing of poetry in America, as if anyone could learn to do it. Poetry was not some mystical art bestowed upon the few and read by even fewer, but the language and concern of the many.

Poets like Robert Lowell, Randall Jarrell, John Berryman, and Theodore Roethke took poetry into the totally new territory if the realistic self, introspection of the reality of the self as it is and not as they wanted it to be. Some say that the Confessional Poets wrote to relieve themselves of their demons. It is confirmed by the APA that rereading one’s work changes the cognitive processes and it may offer some insight into this kind of poetry. Anne Sexton famously said, “Poetry led me by the hand out of madness.” (Marx, Patricia 1966)

John Berryman

John Berryman struck out in a new direction with his Homage to Mistress Bradstreet (1956),which was a conversation with Anne Bradstreet that went on from her trip across the Atlantic at the tender age of eighteen to her death. This long poem departs totally from any previous poetry in its form and content. Berryman creates a conversation with Bradstreet’s ghost and narrates their imagined life together, without getting rid of her husband as it is the poet, Berryman, who is a ghost in the poem, unseen except by her. He did not consider her a great poet, but he hints that she might have been were it not for the constraints of her Puritan feminine form. He talks of love, sometimes noting her husband, but hints that her husband ignored her. Instead we hear hints that Berryman imagined trysts with Bradstreet.

The poem begins with Berryman’s admiration for Bradstreet as a person. He shares a kinship with her as an outcast. “Both of our worlds unhanded us.” (verse 2, line 8) He imagines that he is with her on her trip to America. He speaks of himself all through the first part, even seeming to actually experience the difficult ocean voyage and the harsh hard times in the wilderness.

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Then his moves into introspection of his emotional well being as if these sufferings connect. “I was happy once. (Something keeps on not happening; I shrink?) “ (verse 10, line 5) It is often difficult to tell which persona is speaking as Berryman moves easily into Bradstreet’s in verse 15: “I am drawn, in pieties that seem/ the weary drizzle of an unremembered dream./ Women have gone mad/at twenty-one” Berryman follows the life of Bradstreet through sexual encounters, childbirth and the deaths of her children until he reclaims the narrative in verse 25. Then he seems to move between the two personae almost like a real conversation, imagining things like love and nakedness, things shocking and wicked to her.

Perhaps he is her devil and her lover. “—I have earned the right to be alone with you./ —What right can that be?” (verse 27 lines 6 and 7) This conversation continues, punctuated by dashes ( – ) as the speakers change until verse 37 returns to Berryman’s interior monologue and crosses at some points into undivided dialogue or undivided separate monologues. He follows through the fire and the deaths and mourning until it ends with her death and his mourning.

Zieger (1997) mentions other imagined relationships in Berryman’s poetry, so this is uniquely his. “I contend that Berryman pursues this late-modernist reconstruction overtly in terms of his imagined relations with male poetic predecessors and contemporaries; I also suggest, however, that this reconstruction is strongly over-determined by new relations in a field of poetic production imagined by Berryman as increasingly “invaded” or inhabited by talented women, live speakers rather than ventriloquized ghosts, and by the profound impact of at least one of those potentially displacing contemporaries, Sylvia Plath.” (Zeiger 84)

This is interesting, considering Berryman’s struggle with manic-depression, which is characterized by wide mood swings where the person becomes almost two different people, not separated as in schizophrenia, each one being the same person with hugely different perspectives, brought on by the extremes of the chemical imbalance. (Maruish and Moses 1997) Most manic depressives still go undiagnosed, and diagnosis and treatment were quite primitive in Berryman’s time. Many critics, including Zieger (1997), seem to ignore this. Perhaps they simply do not know enough about the aspects of Bipolar Disorder. It is my thought that his bipolarism makes Berryman even more interesting.

I think Berryman has to be read with manic-depression in mind, as his work makes much more sense than most critics will admit when this is part of the context. He changed his name from Smith and left his home in MacAlester, Oklahoma to live in the northeast. Much of the biographical information, as in, attribute his problems with alcohol to his inability to get over his father’s suicide in his early childhood, hinting that his own suicide in 1972 stemmed from these problems.

However, the tendency to bipolar disorder is hereditary and this explains both his father’s suicide and his alcoholism and subsequent suicide. Manic depressives often use alcohol to attempt to relieve the deep wrenching and unexplainable depression. Bipolar disorder is chemical so the mood swings have their origin in body chemistry and not in what is happening in the lives of the victims. That is one reason it is so misunderstood, even by the sufferers who always look for a reason for their feelings. Berryman’s struggles are easily seen in his work if you’re looking.

Henry, the alter-ego in the 77 Dream Songs (1969) seems like another person entirely. Since there is not enough space here to analyze the entire set of Dreeam Songs, I will simply mention a few and point out the hints to manic depression. In number 1: Huffy Henry hid the day/unappeasable Henry sulked/…..But he should have come out and talked./ The sulking Henry is something which slows the magnanimousness of the manic persona.

Song 29, which begins with: “There sat down, once, a thing on Henry’s heart/ so heavy, if he had a hundred years/ & more, & weeping, sleepless in all them time/…,” is an expression of a depression so deep it seems like a black hole. It does not get better in the rest of the poem. In Dream Song 40, “I’m scared a only one thing, which is me,” provides more evidence for his condition. It seems that Berryman was hospitalized once per year from 1959 until his death in 1972. (Athey, Joel )

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He was diagnosed with various problems from exhaustion to alcoholism, but never seems to have been actually diagnosed with bipolar disorder, though his poems and his life style provide plenty of evidence via V-Axis diagnostics for a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. (APA 2009) In Gen Lyons’s review of Paul Mariani’s biography of Berryman he said, “As early as his 20s, Berryman wrote of his ‘manic depression fits of terrific gloom and loneliness and artistic despair alternating with irresponsible exultation.’

The poet’s entire adult life reads like a case study of that disease. Berryman’s boozing, his alternating grandiose and persecutory delusions, his extreme irritability and outbursts of (mostly ineffectual) violence, his history of appallingly crude sexual behavior, even his suicide — as well as his father’s, since mood disorders can run in families — all point toward that diagnosis.” Lyons takes the biographer to task, though, for making light of the disease early in the book, “Mariani’s dismissal of ”those deluded by their own self-complacency and supposed ‘sanity”’ is worse than silly. It’s irresponsible. Manic depression is a treatable physical illness, but no more responsive to talk therapy than diabetes is. Berryman may not have known that; his biographer should.”

In spite of what had to be extreme suffering, or perhaps because of it, John Berryman created a whole new kind of poetry with variations which could provide analytic fodder for a very large book. One wonders how much more he might have produced had he been properly diagnosed and treated with at least some antidepressants. Lithium, according to some of my acquaintances is not as useful, and probably should be avoided if the victim can control behavior during the manic phases, but the depressive phases can often end in suicide.

Sylvia Plath

The son of the poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath has taken his own life, 46 years after his mother gassed herself while he slept. If ever one considered that clinical depression might be contagious, this family certainly makes it appear so. After Plath’s death, her husband, Ted Hughes, took up residence and had a child with Assia Wevill, who subsequently killed herself and her daughter by the same method as Plath has used, because she could never get out from under Sylvia’s shadow.

Sylvia Plath also suffered from a mood disorder, clinical depression, for most of her short life. Bouts with depression and endured shock therapy in her twenties while at college. Though many of her bouts with depression seem to have had triggers, this is no sign that the depression was psychological. It may be that the triggers simply weakened her defenses to fight off biologically based clinical depression.

In spite of this tortured life, and in spite of burning a great deal of her work after discovering that her husband had been cheating, Sylvia Plath published a great deal of work, mostly after her death. What success she won in the shadow of her British poet laureate husband was well earned. Her poetry shows a displaced persona, caught in a hall of mirrors, not knowing which images are reflections and which one is real. Plath suffered with very low self esteem, so every rejection of her work struck her deeply on a very personal level.

Perhaps that is why she worked so hard to help her husband achieve success. While she was helping him, she could not be simultaneously failing on her own.Plaths earliest work began a long fascination with mirrors. She wrote in her Senior honors thesis about two of Dostoyevsky’s novels, “the appearance of the Double is an aspect of man’s eternal desire to solve the enigma of his own identity. By seeking to read the riddle of his soul in its myriad manifestations, man is brought face to face with his own mysterious mirror image, an image which he confronts with mingled curiosity and fear.” She saw this “other self” as both good and talented and evil. Mirrors figure in much of her poetry, as if she tries to examine the concept of mirrors from every angle.

The early poem, Mirror, describes what she fears, growing old alone and never seeing her true reflection. She fears living in delusion. Perhaps that is why she reacted so strongly to her husband’s philandering. It was not that he wanted another woman, but the lies and deceit.

He was a beautiful mirror with framed in gilt but fatally flawed, unable to give a true reflection. The end of the poem Mirror Plath takes the persona of the mirror, as if her poetry has also been a mirror. “In me she has drowned a young girl, /and in me an old woman/ Rises toward her day after day, /like a terrible fish./ That image of the rising fish in the mirror is one of the strongest ever used. It surprises and shocks. Pamela Annis devoted an entire book to examining the mirrors of Sylvia Plath, so we shall not even attempt a cursory look here.

Annis describes all the various uses of mirrors and mentions especially that the, “Shattered or defective mirrors appear in ‘Thalidomide’ ( 1962), ‘The Couriers’ ( 1962), and ‘Words’ ( 1963). In ‘Thalidomide,’ ‘The glass cracks across, / The image / Flees and aborts like dropped mercury.’” (Annas 4) Flawed mirros, shattered mirrors, distorted and evil mirrors, Plath’s world is a hall of mirrors which she uses to look at and through her entire existence.

Her poetry is almost mystical, and sometimes quite dark. In Aftermath she describes mother Medea after the slaughter of her children and the crowd which wants her blood, wants her tortured, but must be satisfied with only her tears. Plath turns a jaundiced eye on plain home surroundings and simple events. She describes a small boy biting a balloon in Balloons, balloons that they lived with and one which the little boy bit. Little boys bite balloons to see what they are made of and how they will react. Innocent little boys break things.

Plath’s poetry is filled with symbols, some of which are not easy to understand. She personifies objects, and sometimes they even threaten her, like the letters in the wastebasket in Burning the Letters. She mentionsa pack of men in red jackets,” These men will burn the letters that haunt her. Her poetic world is filled with odd talking and plotting things which should not be animated, like her own version of Alice’s strangely frightening wonderland through the looking glass.

Perhaps all of her poetry is looking through this glass, seeing from a different viewpoint. In Black Rook in Rainy Weather Plath react with wonder, so we know she was not always depressed. She saw beauty, and she saw it just beyond her reach. “I only know that a rook/ Ordering its black feathers can so shine/ As to seize my senses, haul/ My eyelids up, and grant/ A brief respite from fear / Of total neutrality. Perhaps that is what she feared most: mediocrity or not caring.

Sylvia Plath may have been the most important female poet of the twentieth century. She turned away from tradition and looked inwards at the outside world. The world within her mind judged the outside, but she seems never to have been perfectly sure of the trueness of her vision. Perhaps she was right about that. She may have been looking at times through her mirrors, at times through a microscope and at other times through isinglass.

Sharon Olds

Sharon Olds was another female poet breaking with tradition, quieter and less obvious, she moved the pace with her interesting punctuation, explored subjects not feminine with a feminine eye. “She shares with Sexton a concrete imagination, one that in her case is often visceral. She says of parents, haunting her adult room and life, “I dream the inner parts of your bodies, the / coils of your bowels like smoke, your hearts / opening like jaws, drops from your glands / clinging to my walls” ( “Possessed”).” (Millier and Parini 664) She is decidedly unfeminine in much of her work, though her perspective is decidedly feminine as she expresses anger over the helplessness of women in this world dominated by men.

Sharon Olds survived an abusive childhood with an alcoholic father and a mother who was helplessly passive. She drew on the wellspring of beat poets and confesssionist poets of San Francisco in the 1960s. Ozzie and Harriet filled the television screens and poets struck out into uncharted territory, writing about all that bad stuff, as George Carlin once put it. He had his “Seven Dirty Words” and the 60s poets had their poems about sex, incest, violence and other family evils.

Sharon Olds writes stark striking poetry with very simple sharp images, like the dying father in Beyond Harm (1991) She describes the precarious role of caring for a father whom she loves and fears, but whom she does not trust. She has residual pain and rage to resolve, about the rejection and abuse she suffered at his hands and she includes her mother as co-conspirator for not stopping him. She ends the poem with closure of a sort: “I suddenly thought, with amazement, he will always/ love me now, and I laughed—he was dead, dead!”

Olds writes a great deal about her harsh Puritan upbringing and it figures in most of her poems. In Mrs. Krikorian she tells how she sinned, rushing the work to go spend time in the library, looking up sinful words. Olds refers to herself as a known criminal in sixth grade. Are all poets troublemakers in school? In her poems about her father she objectifies him, makes him an animate statue who commands her to look, to kiss and to be dutiful.

She is surprised to discover that she loves him when he is about to die. This is not really surprising, since it is a common reaction of an abused child. The child cannot help but love the parent, no matter how abusive. It is respect and trust which is lost. Sharon Olds expresses fear of, but not respect for her father in her poems. Even after he died, she did not trust him. She only trusted the fact that he was dead, and so could not stop loving her any more.

Sharon Olds wrote about subjects that were often taboo even within families, or especially within families, such as sex, incest and miscarriages. These were not standard fodder for poets. It is certainly not writing of beauty here, no flowers or stars to delight the senses. Instead the stench of death and dying. These were especially not the fodder of women poets. Olds steps far out of her Puritan beginnings, not is a truly rebellious manner, but simply stepping away, distancing herself from narrow lanes with blinders on and stepping out of the shadows. She points to the ugly reality and still can find something the care about, like the plain Armenian teacher she said saved her in sixth grade.

Sharon Olds expresses rage at the meanness in the world and the subjugation of women. She really rails at passive women who accept “their place”, as her mother did. She is neither religious nor anti-religious, but she sees the trappings of religion as mere excuses for control. Olds not only never accepted male dominance, but refused to believe in male superiority. If anything she saw men as objects. In fact, she objectifies everything in her poetry, standing aside to observe. Her objectivity and exercising her freedom to look at everything and anywhere she wants separates her from the world, keeps her safe. In The Quest she states that it is her mission to find all the evil in the world,

…..This is my

quest, to know where it is, the evil in the

human heart. As I walk home I

look in face after face for it, I

see the dark beauty, the rage, the

grown-up children of the city she walks as a

child, a raw target.” (Olds 1987)

The poetry of Sharon Olds is not about beauty or spirit, but rather more practical things, like how to insure that a parent will not changes his mind about loving the child. (See to it he dies before he can leave that brief moment of love.) We find in Olds’ poems that she manipulates, just as she learned to do as a child to survive. She manipulates her environment and shows us only what she wants us to see, from the special angle she selects and she manipulates the relationship of the object to herself and to the rest of the scene. The red balloon in Balloons is first freely floating, living with her, then held up to the boys eye as he looks through it and finally in his mouth leaving shreds in his tiny fist after it bursts.

Her early works steered her into more concrete directions, examining the physical. Roland Flint calls her “our poet of the body.” She has been panned by some critics and praised by others for her choice of subjects and plain language, sometimes referred to as vulgar. Some have said she is too shallow and centered upon self, but others comment that this allows the audience to approach what might otherwise be too daring. While Sharon Olds writes quite bluntly about the body and body functions, it is seldom her body from within that we read. It is an object observed, though it is her reaction, or more often merely observation, that we share. She has changed the body from a forbidden thing of sin into an ordinary part of life to be explored.

Where is this Going?

These three and many other poets, such as Ginsberg and Sexton changed poetry of the twentieth century. Some might say it became to prose-like, or lost its charm. But poetry has never been about charm, not to poets anyway. Poetry is about what we see, what we hear, smell and touch. It is our subliminal connection with the physical world and it is a way of communicating the deepest feelings and ineffable truths. It may have started out aimed at beauty, as in love poems, or praise, as in the metaphysical or the Puritan poetry, but it evolved. The reason poetry exists is because it can convey so much more than simple description. The poets tries to touch the audience on a deeper level and elicit a reaction which leads to a brief moment of sublime understanding.

Poetry in America began top separate itself from England in the late nineteenth century, and continued well into the twentieth. However, the development of the connection between bars and poetry began in the 1960s and continued to grow. Many bars host poetry open mikes to attract new talent. This has helped to develop performance poetry and created a whole new genre called SLAM poetry. It connects more than ever before with ordinary life and ordinary people. It is not snobbish high culture any more. Rap and Hip Hop use ordinary poetry for their creations. It is simply a matter of availability.

These three poets, and others who inspired, followed or were contemporary with them, laid the groundwork for the future of poetry. It will not disappear, but has, instead, become very popular, even in small towns. These poets broke with tradition and created new forms and explored new areas. Sadly, many of our brightest and best are plagued with problems and Plath, Olds and Berryman were no exception. Olds was, possibly, the odd man (woman) out, since she uses a more objective perspective. She also is the healthiest of the three, as evidenced by her longevity. She has managed, if not to slay the tigers, to keep them in abeyance.

It is a sad thing that treatment for bipolar disorder and clinical depression was not better while Berryman and Plath were alive. They might have produced many volumes of work for us. The biological imbalances from which they suffered still cannot be cured, but the bottom of the depression can be raised a bit with few side effects, generally allowing many such sufferers to live rather normal lives. Some of the current drugs do not dull the senses as lithium (often prescribed for the manic phase of bipolar disorder) did and ridlin (a treatment often prescribed for ADHD) is said to do. We also seldom, if at all, use electric shock therapy for depression, as it is primitive and painful. Modern pharmacology can help many sufferers of mood disorders to live normally with much less pain.

In any case, during their short lives, Plath and Berryman helped to change the entire landscape of American poetry and make it accessible to the masses, for which it is usually written. Poets may do some writing for themselves, but they write more to connect with others and touch them, possibly in very profound ways. Poetry is meant to be shared. Sharon Olds is carrying this even further in exploring taboo areas and writing very plainly with extremely graphic imagery. The American poetry of the nineteenth century was still built upon British tradition with still soft edges, somewhat flowery language, as seen in some of the earliest work of Robert Frost. Then he, like other poets began to experiment with style, form and content.

What followed these changes were the early experiment of poets like Ginsberg, Eliot and Pound. The Black Mountain Poets followed the Modernist poets, like those mentioned, creating the very visual performance poetry of the mid-twentieth century that was seen in coffee houses and bars.. The Confessional poets I have discussed appeared on the scene at that point, moving from poetry as art to poetry as expression.

American poetry of the twentieth century became free of the previous trappings and American poets ceased to be led by a tradition which was not theirs. They have created their own tradition, led by their own poets, of whom the three discussed her are quite outstanding and important. These were the pioneers of today’s poetry. Tomorrow’s pioneers are already on the scene.

There is really no way to predict where the art is going, except that it will become more and more popular. Poetry has gone in many directions from the published book to organized SLAMs. While many critics do not consider rap and hip hop music as either music or poetry, there is no denying that much of this work is indeed poetic. Poetry, or verse, has long been used to feed lyrics to music. In fact, the earliest poetry might have actually been sung in order to facilitate memory. Then the audience was invited to join in and poetry became a dynamically shared experience. With the advent of the printing press, printed poetry could be distributed, reaching a much larger audience in books and newspapers.

Now, with electronic distribution, television and radio, poetry is out of the closet and is no longer trapped in the mansions of the highly educated. Poetry can be shared freely over the Internet and published in many forms. I can only hope that this development continues and future poets come from all walks and regions to share their work with all kinds of audiences. There may develop many different kinds of poetry to suit the taste of a nation of agreeable differences.


Annas, Pamela J. A Disturbance in Mirrors: The Poetry of Sylvia Plath. New York: Greenwood Press, 1988.

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Athey, Joel, 2009, American National Biography. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. Copyright © 1999 by the American Council of Learned Societies. Web.

Berryman, John, 1989, “Homage to Mistress Bradstreet” from Collected Poems, 1937-1971. Copyright © 1989 by Kate Donahue Berryman.

The Dream Songs, 1969, Dreamsong 1, 29, 40, New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Flint, Roland “A Way of Knowing,” Poet Lore 83.1 (1988): 39-44.

Highes, Langston, 1926, The Weary Blues.

Maruish, M. E. & Moses, J. A. (Eds.), (1997). Clinical Neuropsychology: Theoretical Foundations for Practitioners. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Millier, Brett C., and Jay Parini, eds. The Columbia History of American Poetry. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993.

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Marx, Patricia, 1966, Hudson Review 18, no. 4, 1965/66)

Olds, Sharon,1987, The Quest, THE GOLD CELL, Alfred A. Knopf.

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Zeiger, Melissa F. Beyond Consolation: Death, Sexuality, and the Changing Shapes of Elegy. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997.

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