V. Literature of the Gilded Age- Poetry • Literature of the Gilded Age • American Poetry in 19th C • Walt Whitman • Emily Dickinson • Realism & Naturalism
V. Literature of the Gilded Age (1865-1912)
Gilded Age - characteristics • Urbanization • Industrialization • Immigration
19th Century Poetry • Europe as role model • William Cullen Bryant • Henry W. Longfellow • The Song of Hiawatha(Kalevala) • ”Paul Revere's Ride” • Edgar A. Poe
”Paul Revere’s Ride” Listen my children and you shall hearOf the midnight ride of Paul Revere,On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;Hardly a man is now aliveWho remembers that famous day and year. He said to his friend, "If the British marchBy land or sea from the town to-night,Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry archOf the North Church tower as a signal light,--One if by land, and two if by sea;And I on the opposite shore will be,Ready to ride and spread the alarmThrough every Middlesex village and farm,For the country folk to be up and to arm."
19th Century Poetry • Emerson on poetry & America: "America is a poem in our eyes; its ample geography dazzles the imagination, and it will not waitlong for metres."
Walt Whitman • Leaves of Grass (1855) • Develops free verse • Emerson’s voice is found
Walt Whitman • Born New York (1819) • Printer, editor, carpenter, school teacher • Travel thru US • Publishes Leaves of Grass (1855)
Walt Whitman • Enlists Emerson’s aid in publishing • Wound dresser in Washington, DC during Civil War • Govt jobs from 1865-73 • Publishes 9 editions of Leaves of Grass • Dies in 1892
The Good Gray Poet • Singing • Vitality • Self • America • Democracy • Physicality • Mystical • Transcendental • Innovation
”Song of Myself” I CELEBRATE 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.
”Song of Myself” Houses and rooms are full of perfumes—the shelves are crowded with perfumes; I breathe the fragrance myself, and know it and like it; The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it. The atmosphere is not a perfume—it has no taste of the distillation—it is odorless; It is for my mouth forever—I am in love with it; I will go to the bank by the wood, and become undisguised and naked; I am mad for it to be in contact with me.
Beat! Beat! Drums! BEAT! beat! drums!—Blow! bugles! blow! Through the windows—through doors—burst like a ruthless force, Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation; Into the school where the scholar is studying; Leave not the bridegroom quiet—no happiness must he have now with his bride; Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, plowing his field or gathering his grain; So fierce you whirr and pound, you drums—so shrill you bugles blow.
Emily Dickinson • Other major poetic voice • Distinctly different from Whitman
Well-known Exhuberant National and social concerns Yankee Innovative Reclusive Reserved Private Puritan background Innovative Whitman - Dickinson
Emily Dickinson • Born Amherst, Mass (1830) • After college, reclusive, ”eccentric” lifestyle • Faith important, but doesn’t join church • Never married • Own family important • Dies in 1886
Dickinson on poetry ”If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only ways I know it. Is there any other way?”
I heard a Fly buzz — when I died — The Stillness in the Room Was like the Stillness in the Air — Between the Heaves of Storm — The Eyes around — had wrung them dry — And Breaths were gathering firm For that last Onset — when the King Be witnessed — in the Room — I willed my Keepsakes — Signed away What portion of me be Assignable — and then it was 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 —
After great pain a formal feeling comes--The nerves sit ceremonious like tombs;The stiff Heart questions--was it He that bore?And yesterday--or centuries before? The feet, mechanical, go roundA wooden wayOf ground, or air, or ought,Regardless grown,A quartz contentment, like a stone. This is the hour of leadRemembered if outlived,As freezing persons recollect the snow--First chill, then stupor, then the letting go.
A narrow fellow in the grassOccasionally rides;You may have met him, -did you not?His notice sudden is.The grass divides as with a comb,A spotted shaft is seen;And then it closes at your feetAnd opens further on.He likes a boggy acre,A floor too cool for corn.Yet when a child, and barefoot,I more than once, at morn,
Have passed, I thought, a whip-lashUnbraiding in the sun, - When, stooping to secure it,It wrinkled, and was gone.Several of nature's peopleI know, and they know me;I feel for them a transportOf cordiality;But never met this fellow,Attended or alone,Without a tighter breathing,And zero at the bone.
Dickinson - themes • Death • Religion • Nature • Pain • Love
Realism • Reaction to Romanticism • Tied to social reform • Emphasis on everyday experience • Everyday people – common man • Character over plot
William Dean Howells Literature should be "simple, natural, and honest" "Our novelists, therefore, concern themselves with the more smiling aspects of life, which are the more American, and seek the universal in the individual rather than the social interests."
Naturalism • A branch of realism • Determinism • Character’s behavior controlled by • Environment • Heredity • Inner desires • Outer forces
Naturalism • Frank Norris • McTeague • Dentist’s social descent—driven by animal greed—ends in Death Valley • Stephen Crane • Jack London • Ambrose Bierce
Next week • Rags-to-Riches • Regionalism • Progressivism