discussion of introductory chapter - premodern poetry

 Please read all the way down. At the four stars (****) there's a question
 I ask and hope that some 88'ers will answer and then that other 88'ers
 will further discuss by responding to the answers (in other words: let's
 TALK about this).

Okay, now, while a few more 88'ers continue to introduce themselves, let's
talk our way through the

	introductory chapter

of our course.

You've read--or should have read, or should be reading now--an excerpt
from Edwin Markham's popular poem about Abe Lincoln, an excerpt from a
famous poem by William Vaughn Moody called "Gloucester Moors" and a short
poem by Allen Ginsberg's father! There were two audio files and one
text file to help you understand these 

	pre-modern poems

in the context of what came next--the modernist revolution that rejected
this kind of poetry as 

	hackneyed or cliched
	too easy
	(and worse).

So if we want to understand modernism (coming in chapter two of the
course) we had best understand the kind of pre-modern poetry the
modernists loved to hate.

    So what's *really* so bad about this passage from Markham's poem?

	Up from log cabin to the Capitol, 
        One fire was on his spirit, one resolve-- 
        To send a keen ax to the root of wrong, 
        Clearing a free way for the feet of God, 
        The eyes of conscience testing every stroke, 
        To make his deed the measure of a man. 
        He built the rail-pile as he built the State, 
        Pouring his splendid strength through every blow: 
        The grip that swung the ax in Illinois 
        Was on the pen that set a people free. 

    Do you agree with the general criticism by the modernists of
    this kind of late-Victorian poetry that it's wordy, emptily
    rhetorical, sentimental, hackneyed, bloated or overwritten,
    etc.? If you agree, then what specifically makes you say that
    about *this* passage?

So, 88'ers, let's hear it. Who's first?

  in sunny (again) Philly

navigate 88v: schedule | key | home | PAPERs | | m a i l the s t a f f