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FAMOUS AMERICAN POETS. Despite their genius and fame, many poets were often misunderstood because of their unique dispositions and ideals. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


  • FAMOUS AMERICAN POETSDespite their genius and fame, many poets were often misunderstood because of their unique dispositions and ideals.

    Sources for the following slides unless otherwise specified:;;;;

  • FAMOUS POETSEmily Dickinson (1830 1886)Images:

  • Emily Dickinson BiographyBorn December 10, 1830 in Amherst, MA.Educated at Amherst Academy.At 17, began college at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary; she became ill the spring of her first year and did not return.She would leave home only for short trips for the remainder of her life, leading scholars to speculate she may have been agoraphobic (fear of going in public or managing crowds).

  • Was She Weird?Known for being a recluse, she didnt leave her familys homestead for any reason after the late 1860s.She almost always wore white.She often lowered snacks and treats in baskets to neighborhood children from her window, careful never to let them see her face.

  • Dickinsons Poetry Famous for . . . Regular meterSing-songQuatrains (four line stanzas)Often 1st and 3rd lines rhyme, 2nd and 4th lines rhyme in iambic pentameter (ABAB)The use of dashes as emotion and interruptionMost poems about Life and Death

  • Dickinsons Publishing CareerSent poems to Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a literary critic and family friend.He recognized her talent, but tried to improve them, which made Dickinson lose interest.At the time of her death, only seven of her poems had been published.

  • Dickinsons LegacyDickinson died May 15, 1886, of nephritis (kidney disease).Along with Walt Whitman, Dickinson is one of the two giants of American poetry of the 19th century.

  • Dickinsons poemI heard a fly buzz when I died; The stillness round my form Was like the stillness in the air Between the heaves of storm. The eyes beside had wrung them dry, And breaths were gathering sure For that last onset, when the king Be witnessed in his power. I willed my keepsakes, signed away What portion of me I Could make assignable,- and then There interposed a fly, With blue, uncertain, stumbling buzz, Between the light and me; And then the windows failed, and then I could not see to see. The death in this poem is painless, yet the vision of death it presents is horrifying, even gruesome. The appearance of an ordinary, insignificant fly at the climax of a life at first merely startles and disconcerts us. But by the end of the poem, the fly has acquired dreadful meaning. Clearly, the central image is the fly. It makes a literal appearance in three of the four stanzas and is what the speaker experiences in dying. source:

  • FAMOUS POETSWalt Whitman (1819-1892)

    Lived between time of the War of 1812 and The American Civil War.Transcendentalist RealistGained prominence as a Free Verse poetOne of two most famous 19th century poets (Dickinson is the other one)

  • Walt WhitmanWalt Whitman was born May 31, 1819 on South Huntington, Long Island, New York.His poetry broke every rule of traditional poetryFamous volume of poetry: Leaves of Grass (1855)1892 - Died of Emphysema/Pneumonia

  • I celebrate myselfHe was almost entirely self-education, especially admiring the work of Dante, Shakespeare, and Homer.His mother described him as very good, but very strange.His brother described him as being stubborner [sic] than a load of bricks.

  • Walt WhitmanMixed reactions to his poetry, possibly because of its sexual references.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson/Abe Lincoln loved it.

    Themes Whitman covered were Nature, Democracy, and Common Man.

    He introduced Free Verse to America. (no rhyme scheme, no meter)Uses long lines, vernacular, and catalogue (listings)

    Slide Source:,3,Walt Whitman

  • Whitmans Song of Myself poemI CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.I loafe and invite my soul, I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil, this air, Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same, I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin, Hoping to cease not till death.

  • FAMOUS POETSLangston Hughes (1902 - 1967)

  • Langston Hughes BiographyJames Langston Hughes was born February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri. After his parents divorced and until his mother remarried, he lived with his grandmother. His father moved to Mexico.

    Hughes writing influences were Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Carl Sandburg, and Walt Whitman, though Hughes is known for his insightful, colorful portrayals of black life in America from the twenties through the sixties. He was a major player in the Harlem Renaissance Movement.

    Langston Hughes died of complications from prostate cancer in May 22, 1967, in New York.

  • Writing StyleDiction/Vernacular Jazz InfluencesMetaphors and Symbols Imagery

  • Hughes PoemWhat happens to a dream deferred?Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore-- And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over-- like a syrupy sweet?Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.Or does it explode?

    Dream Deferred

  • Understanding Hughes What Happens to a Dream Deferred? poemThe questions are all rhetorical questions, because they intend to answer themselves.

    Each question in the first stanza uses simile: like a raisin in the sun, like a sore,like rotten meat, like a syrupy sweet. The second stanza which is not a question but a suggestion also uses simile like a heavy load. The last stanza uses metaphor, does it explode?

    The poem employs rhyme: sun-run, meat-sweet, load-explode.

    The poem also uses imagery: raisin in the sun, fester like a sore / And then run, stink like rotten meat, etc.

  • Sylvia Plath1932-1963

    The blood jet is poetry / there is no stopping it.

  • A brief biography: childhood

    Born in Boston on October 27, 1932, to Aurelia Schober and Otto PlathHer mother introduced her to poetry which she loved Idolized her father and longed to please himIn 1930s he developed diabetes, but refused treatment. Gangrene of leg led to amputation.In 1940, when Sylvia was 8, her father died and she published her first poem.Excelled in English and writing coursesSuffers mental & emotional exhaustionIs rejected for a Harvard writing courseFirst suicide attempt overdose. Receives electric shock treatment.She writes about these experiences in her semi-autobiographical novel The Bell Jar

    After discovering poetry, Sylvia said I had fallen into a new way of being happy.

  • Sylvia and Ted1954 Plath went to Harvard summer school, graduates summa cum laude in 19551956 Met Ted Hughes, also a poetIt was an intense courtship and they were married within months. In 1962, following a traumatic appendix operation and the birth of their son Nicholas, Plath's writing became more frantic.Sylvia & Teds relationship was passionate and tumultuous

    He was very simply the only man Ive ever met whom I could never boss. (Sylvia to friends)

  • Sylvia Plath & Ted Hughes1962 the beginning of the endJune: 2nd suicide attempt driving car off the roadJuly: Discovers Teds affair with Assia Weevill. Sept: They separateOct: She writes 26 poems in one monthDec: She takes her 2 children and moves into a maisonette in LondonShe prepares Ariel, a collection of 41 poems

  • The end: 1963The Bell Jar is published under a pseudonym and receives good reviewsShe is depressed, isolated and mentally unstableFebruary 1963, in one of the coldest winters in English history, she succeeded in taking her lifeHer body was discovered the following morning.She was survived by her 2 children.1965: Ariel was published.1982 she is posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Literature.

  • Plaths styleConfessional Poetry Themes: Death, Life, her fatherMetaphors (sometimes extended), Repetition, AssonanceFree VerseElegy

  • *Billy CollinsBorn March 22, 1941 in New York, New YorkContemporary poetPoems have surprise endingsSarcastic / HumorousConversational and witty poemsLaid-back, talks about everyday lifeBecame an English ProfessorWriter-in-residence at Sarah Lawrence CollegeFounder of Poetry 180 project

  • *InfluencesEmily DickinsonMotherJohn KeatsSamuel ColeridgeJazz musicNew York


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