Subverting the Lyric: Essays

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Stereotypes that cast us as hard-working, dull strivers erase our individual histories, flaws, and dreams. Today, at a time when the country is so divided, such stories are more important than ever. Immigrants and their children are under attack. Recent Chinese American narratives have moved away from the weight of World War II, and contemporary economic and social forces are giving rise to a new generation of literature.

Asian Americans are the fastest growing ethnicity in the United States. There are nearly five million Chinese Americans in all walks of life, in all parts of the country. The traditional extended clan of meddling aunties and uncles has begun to change, and so, too, the narratives. Li, born in China, has spent much of her adult life in the United States. And in a departure from past depictions of China as backward and poverty-stricken, these books reveal the economic and technological advancement in the region. Instead of telling your reader that a given work is beautiful, lyrical, or timeless, focus on the ideas the text conveys and the ways it goes about conveying them.

You may come across a line in a poem or novel that is so beautiful, or so sloppy, that you cannot resist commenting on it.

Aeon for Friends

Often, particularly when you are analyzing a poem, it is tempting to assume that the author is also the narrator. This is usually not the case. Poetry, like the novel or short story, is a creative genre in which authors are free to inhabit the voice s of any character s they like.

Most poems do not identify a narrator by name, but the fact that the speaker is unnamed does not necessarily imply that he or she stands in for the author. Remember, the person doing the writing is the writer, and the person doing the speaking is the speaker. In some cases, you may choose to treat the speaker as a stand-in for the writer. In these instances, make sure you have a reason for doing so—and consider mentioning that reason somewhere in your paper. I make a pact with you, Walt Whitman— I have detested you long enough.

I come to you as a grown child Who has had a pig-headed father; I am old enough now to make friends. Here, the speaker seeks to make amends with Whitman, whose poetry he once detested.


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Although the passage conveys a desire for reconciliation, it does not do so in an amicable manner. The writing is portioned out into short, terse statements, with little concession to diplomatic language. Consequently, the passage reads more like a pledge or vow than a peace offering. Integrate quotations fully into your argument. Whenever you incorporate a literary quotation into your writing, you must justify its usage.

I much prefer to see the meaning, though, especially the part about combing out the encounter. So, thank you for that. That kind analysis drives me round the bend. If anything, it was a lucky bonus. Likewise, there are only so many rhymes. I would say that what makes it more than just an easy rhyme which it was was how Frost made use of it — the fact that it had been dropped and that it was the mother who picked it up and not the girl.

Little things like that. I got — nothing. However, there are far, far more searches for Frost, according to my blog stats, than Yeats. Frost might well be the most read or assigned English language poet. I wrote on the Subverted Flower because I noticed some searches looking for information on the poem and I also wanted to give readers something besides haiku. Maybe more comments will come when and if readers are assigned this poem in school all at once or gradually as casual readers look for information.

I asked him why he chose to write a massive 2 volume tome on Haydn. Turns out, the Sonatas were a forgery. I have a CD of the recordings and love them.

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lyric essay | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

Some months ago, in an article in the Saturday Review, I ventured that the delinquency manifest by this sort of evaluation might be demonstrated if one were to imagine the critical response to an improvisation which, through its style and texture, suggested that it might have been composed by Joseph Haydn.

If, however, one were to suggest that although it much resembled Haydn it was, rather, a youthful work of Mendelssohn, its value would decline; and if one chose to attribute it to a succession of authors, each of them closer to the present day, then — regardless of their talents or historical significance — the merits of this same little piece would diminish with each new identification.


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If, on the other hand, one were to suggest that this work of chance, of accident, of the here and now, was not by Haydn but by a master living some generation or two before his time Vivaldi, perhaps , then this work would become — on the strength of that daring, that foresight, that futuristic anticipation landmark in musical composition.

That sort of thing. Once he became famous, Frost liked to make it a point to send the very same poems to the very same editors who had, just a few years before, breezily dismissed them and him and who now requested his poems. Most biographers are horrified, but I get it. Frost wrote it. In truth, a lifetime of poems is both a collection of disparate works and one unified whole—a lifetime. But as for the quality of the poem: I think it holds up.

This is a masterful poet. The real question is whether I would have ever had the opportunity to read it. Who would publish it nowadays? On the other hand, remember Richard Bachman? This was Stephen King pretending to be an unknown author. King, as you suggest, wanted to find out if he was getting published only because he was Stephen King. Well, as it turns out, Bachman was quickly taken up, published and was hailed as the next Stephen King. Some argued that he was a superior writer to King. So, and yeah, this is the short answer to your comment.

Yes, poetic genius still. This was terrific. Thank you.


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  • I was bewildered by the girl foaming at the mouth, but your reference to Caliban appearing in both the boy and girl was perfect. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email.

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    Genre Analysis

    What does he mean? Lines He smiled for her to smile , But she was ei ther blind Or will fully un kind. He flicked and flung the flower, And another sort of smile [caught up his lips]… A decision is made. He, on the other hand, sees her not as a woman, but as a girl: She was stan ding to the waist In gol den rod and brake , Her shi ning hair dis placed.

    Lines He stretched her ei ther arm As if she made it ache To clasp her — not to harm ; As if he could not spare To touch her neck and hair. Lines She looked and saw the shame : A hand hung like a paw , An arm worked like a saw As if to be per sua sive, An in gra ti a ting laugh That cut the snout in half , And eye be come e va sive.

    Love isn’t what it was

    The narrator continues: Line But what she could not see Was that the flower might be O ther than base and fe tid: That the flower had done but part , And what the flower be gan Her own too mea ger heart Had ter ri bly com plet ed. Lines She looked and saw the worst. Line She plucked her lips for it , And still the hor ror clung. The rhymes of puzzle and muzzle are beautifully handled in the sense that muzzle follows only after several lines.

    Also worth noticing is the rhyme of the last three lines, a way to conclude the poem and bring it to a more final stop. Elizabethan playwrights would sometimes use a concluding couplet to signal the end of a speech. The meter, as mentioned above, is Iambic Trimeter varied, principally, by anapestic first feet and feminine endings.

    Let me know if you enjoyed or have questions. Like this: Like Loading Thanks, Susan.