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Carl Sandburg (1876-1967)

Carl Sandberg (1878-1967)

Much of his poetry, such as “Chicago”, focused on Chicago, Illinois, where he spent time as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News. His most famous description of the city is as “Hog Butcher for the World/Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat/Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler,/Stormy, Husky, Brawling, City of the Big Shoulders.”

Sandburg moved to Chicago in 1912, after living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he had served as secretary to Emil Seidel, Milwaukee’s Socialist mayor. Harriet Monroe, a fellow resident of Chicago, had recently founded Poetry at around this time. Monroe liked and encouraged Sandburg’s plain-speaking free verse style, strongly reminiscent of Walt Whitman. The 1916 Chicago Poems established Sandburg as a major figure in contemporary literature.

The Chicago Poems, and its follow-up volumes of verse, Cornhuskers (1918) and Smoke and Steel (1920) represent Sandburg’s attempts to found a U.S. version of social realism, writing expansive verse in praise of American agriculture and industry. All of these tendencies are manifest in Chicago itself. Then, as now, Chicago was a hub of commodities trading, and a key financial center for agricultural markets. The city was also a center of the meat-packing industry, and an important railroad hub; these industries are also mentioned in the poem.



Arms and the Man

George Bernard Shaw , Arms and the Man

Arms and the Man is one of Shaw's earliest plays. It was first produced in London in 1894. Set in Bulgaria in 1885, a soldier barely escapes from battle during wartime and finds himself hiding in the daughter's room of the most prominent family in town. Her impending marriage plans are thrown into pandemonium. In a war between Bulgaria and Serbia, the Serbian soldiers are fleeing. A Serbian soldier surprises Raina, the heroine, by entering her bedroom for shelter. The Serbian officer is a Swiss mercenary soldier fighting on the Serbian side, his name is Captain Bluntschli. Raina Petkoff had been dreaming of her fianc' Sergius; about how valiantly he had led the Bulgarians to victory. Bluntschli is a soldier who prefers a supply of chocolates to bullets when he goes to the front. Chocolate Cream Soldier
Raina Petkoff: Raina, the heroine of the play, is the only child of Major Petkoff and Catherine Petkoff. She is a "romantic" and had romantic notions of love and war.
Catherine Petkoff: Catherine Petkoff, Raina's mother, is a middle-aged affected woman, who wishes to pass off as a Viennese lady. She is "imperiously energetic" and good-looking. Major Petkoff, her husband, is a wealthy soldier.
Sergius: Sergius is handsome, as a romantic hero ought to be, has a good position in the army and supposed to be brave. He is supposed to be in love with Raina but flirts with Louka (the family servant).
Bluntschli: Bluntschli is a Swiss professional soldier fighting for the Serbs (against Bulgaria). He believes that it is
better to be armed with chocolates than with ammunition on the battlefield. In contrast to Sergius "he is of middling stature and undistinguished appearance". He is energetic and carries himself like a soldier.


Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

English Romantic poet who rebelled against English politics and conservative values. Shelley was considered with his friend Lord Byron a pariah for his life style. He drew no essential distinction between poetry and politics, and his work reflected the radical ideas and revolutionary optimism of the era. Like many poets of his day, Shelley employed mythological themes and figures from Greek poetry that gave an exalted tone for his visions


To Wordsworth

Percy Bysshe Shelley, To Wordsworth

By 1816 Wordsworth had abandoned the radicalism of his youth and sought spiritual rather than political remedies. Shelley utilizes Wordsworth's favorite form, the sonnet, and interweaves several critical allusions to Wordsworth's early poetry, including 'Intimations' (line 9) and London, 1802. (The poem is all a single stanza, but I wanted it to fit on the page!)
Poet of Nature, thou hast wept to know
That things depart which never may return:
Childhood and youth, friendship, and love's first glow,
Have fled like sweet dreams, leaving thee to mourn.
These common woes I feel. One loss is mine
Which thou too feel'st, yet I alone deplore.
Thou wert as a lone star whose light did shine
On some frail bark in winter's midnight roar:

Thou hast like to a rock-built refuge stood
Above the blind and battling multitude:
In honoured poverty thy voice did weave
Songs consecrate to truth and liberty.
Deserting these, thou leavest me to grieve,
Thus having been, that thou shouldst cease to be.


Mount Blanc, Lines Written in the Vale of Chamouni

Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mount Blanc, Lines Written in the Vale of Chamouni

The highest peak in Europe, was the pinnacle of reaching the sublime. Inspired to look inward by the sight of the river valley, Shelley has a sudden and clear understanding of the workings of his mind: his mind is involved in a constant exchange of information with his environment. Shelley stresses that his mind "passively" partakes in this exchange, implying that he is, in some respects at least, merely a vehicle for the reception and transmission of information. This theme that the poetic mind acts as a passive receiver and transmitter is recurrent in Romantic poetry, most notably in the motif of the Eolian harp, a kind of wind-powered musical instrument, used by Coleridge in a poem named for the instrument and "Dejection, An Ode," as well as by Shelley himself in "Ode to the West Wind" (Norton p. 331).
The everlasting universe of things
Flows through the mind, and rolls its rapid waves,
Now dark--now glittering-no", reflecting gloom
Now lending splendor, where from secret springs
The source of human thought its tribute brings 5
Of waters-with a sound but half its own,
Such as a feeble brook will oft assume
In the wild woods, among the mountains lone,
Where waterfalls around it leap forever,
Where woods and winds contend, and a vast river 10
Over its rocks ceaselessly bursts and raves...


Hymn to Intellectual Beauty

Percy Bysshe Shelley, Hymn to Intellectual Beauty

Tells of Shelley's decision to devote his life to the pursuit of ideals. 'Intellectual' refers to the ideal Platonic spirit apprehended by the mind, over the faint and fleeting information of the senses.
Broken up into 12 line stanzas.
THE AWFUL shadow of some unseen Power

Floats though unseen among us, visiting

This various world with as inconstant wing

As summer winds that creep from flower to flower,

Like moonbeams that behind some piny mountain shower,


It visits with inconstant glance

Each human heart and countenance;

Like hues and harmonies of evening,

Like clouds in starlight widely spread,

Like memory of music fled,


Like aught that for its grace may be

Dear, and yet dearer for its mystery. (...)



Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ozymandias

Greek name for Ramses II. (14 line poem)
I met a traveler from an antique land -- My name is Ozymandias, King of Kinds: Look on my works, ye Mighty and despair!


Ode to the West Wind

Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ode to the West Wind

Actually in terza rima (interlocking rhyme).
Wind as the bringer of life.
O Wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being
Thou from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes! O thou
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed

The wing'd seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow


To a Skylark

Percy Bysshe Shelley, To a Skylark

Shelley invokes Milton's thanks to his 'Celestial patroness,' who 'inspires / easy [his] unpremeditated Verse' (P.L. 9.21-24)
Strange meter: 3 lines of trochaic trimeter (/ u/ u /u) and one alexanderine (hexameter).
Wordsworth also has a poem of this title.

HAIL to thee, blithe spirit!

Bird thou never wert'

That from heaven or near it

Pourest thy full heart

In profuse strains of unpremeditated art (...).


Up with me! up with me into the clouds!
For thy song, Lark, is strong;
Up with me, up with me into the clouds!
Singing, singing,
With clouds and sky about thee ringing,
Lift me, guide me till I find
That spot which seems so to thy mind! (...)


A Defense of Poetry (essay)

Percy Bysshe Shelley, A Defense of Poetry (essay)

Shelley was moved to write this essay by an ironic statement made by Thomas Love Peacock in his volume The Four Ages of Poetry. Peacock stated that poetry was no longer useful because of the progress of technology and science. Shelley began his defense of poetry by distinguishing between reason and imagination, asserting that reason is a lesser faculty, having to do only with the analysis of things. He argued that imagination sees values and relationships and therefore is a creative faculty. Poetry, Shelley stated, is the expression of the imagination.
Shelley traces the development of poetry from early "savage" times to mature civilizations. He believes that the function of poetry is to give order to the world and thereby to give pleasure. Thus, poets act as legislators, inventing the "art" of life, and also as prophets, because they focus on the eternal and infinite rather than just the local and temporary. By this broad definition even philosophers like Plato or Bacon were poets, and the great poets--Shakespeare, Dante, and Milton--were philosophers.
The effect of poetry is, first of all, pleasure. But more than that, poetry makes people better by softening their natures, by enlarging their sympathies, by encouraging love, and by not being narrowly moralistic. Shelley states that the best poets do not try to teach and that society needs poets. He argues that humans have more practical and technical knowledge than they can possibly use, but that without the values embodied in poetry such knowledge is used to exploit people and cause them misery.
Shelley further proposes that poetry does not come from the reason or the will but rather form the mind in moments of inspiration. He states that the imagination creates far more beautiful images than the composing poet can record. Thus a poet is a person of greater than ordinary sensibility. The poet is happy in the operations of his own mind because he "turns all things to loveliness."
Finally, Shelley proposes in a second part (never written) to discuss contemporary poetic practice. He felt that he was living in an era of great poetry, at a time when enormous social and political upheaval was inspiring poetry. What he called "the spirit of the age" gave power to each individual poet. Shelley concluded with the most famous phrase of the essay: "Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the World." (Also mentions Dante)
Quote: We have more moral, political, and historical wisdom than we know how to reduce into practice; we have more scientific and economic knowledge than can be accommodated to the just distribution of the produce which it multiplies. The poetry in these systems of thought is concealed by the accumulation of facts and calculating processes. . . . We want the creative faculty to imagine that which we know; we want the generous impulse to act that which we imagine; we want the poetry of life; our calculations have outrun our conception. . . . The cultivation of those sciences which have enlarged the limits of the empire of man over the external world has for want of the poetical faculty proportionally circumscribed those of the internal world; and man, having enslaved the elements, remains himself a slave.


Adonais (An Elegy on the Death of John Keats)

Percy Bysshe Shelley, Adonais (An Elegy on the Death of John Keats)

Written in Spenserian stanzas like Keats' 'Eve of St. Agnes.' It is a pastoral elegy, which is a call to mourning, invocation of the muse and the sympathy of nature with death, procession of the mourners and sorrow to consolation. Shelley did not know Keats well in life, but sympathized with his treatment by the Tory press. The last lines of the elegy take an ironic turn when Shelley's ravaged body is found drowned and can only be identified by a copy of Keat's 1820 volume in his coat pocket. Shelley's heart, hardened by calcium did not burn and Mary Shelley kept it wrapped in a copy of Adonais.
First stanza:

I weep for Adonais - he is dead!
O, weep for Adonais! though our tears
Thaw not the frost which binds so dear a head!
And thou, sad Hour, selected from all years
To mourn our loss, rouse thy obscure compeers,
And teach them thine own sorrow, say: "With me
Died Adonais; till the Future dares
Forget the Past, his fate and fame shall be
An echo and a light unto eternity!"

Last Stanza:

The breath whose might I have invoked in song
Descends on me; my spirit's bark is driven
Far from the shore, far from the trembling throng
Whose sails were never to the tempest given;
The massy earth and sphered skies are riven!
I am borne darkly, fearfully, afar;
Whilst, burning through the inmost veil of Heaven,
The soul of Adonais, like a star,
Beacons from the abode where the Eternal are.


The Rivals

Richard Sheridan, The Rivals (1751-1816)

Same person who wrote The School For Scandal.
malapropism is derived from Mrs Malaprop, continually trying to impress with long words but using the wrong ones). It is, in form, a parody of a conventional romance, having two pairs of young lovers rather different from the norm.
To take the less important pair first, Faulkland is an exaggeration of the sensitive, jealous lover. His girl, Julia, is fairly insipid, but this is necessary because the audience should instantly appreciate that his fears spring entirely from his own mind, and have no basis in her behaviour or inclinations. (An example of this: when Julia returns to her country home briefly and he remains in Bath, Faulkland is at first made unhappy by the thought that her life will be unhappy without him; but when, to reassure him, he is told that she continues to enjoy herself, he is tormented by the thought that this proves her indifferent to him.)
In contrast to Faulkland and Julia, in the other pair of lovers it is not the man who is of interest but the woman. Jack Absolute is a typical young hero, rather in the mould of Fielding's Tom Jones. Lydia Languish, however, is not just the more interesting of the two of them, but the play's main character. (Having the major character in the play female is unusual for the period.) She is a hopeless romantic, addicted to the novels frequently condemned by contemporaries as responsible for the corruption of the morals of young ladies. (The absurdity of that idea is one of the targets Sheridan is attacking.)
In her desperate search for romance, Lydia rejects the fate of marriage to a young nobleman which is the allotted fate for a young lady of fortune. She wants to elope with a penniless man, forcing Jack, who would be the sort of suitor of whom Lydia's family would approve, to disguise himself as a poor army officer. Enjoying her clandestine meetings with "Ensign Beverley", Lydia is enraged when she discovers that he is, in fact, a gentleman - and is only mollified when Jack persuades her that he is only pretending to be rich to trick her family so that he can spend more time with her. (This is of course agreeably dangerous and romantic.)
Illiterate him, I say, quite from your memory. -- The Rivals. Act i. Sc. 2.
'T is safest in matrimony to begin with a little aversion. -- The Rivals. Act i. Sc.
A progeny of learning. -- The Rivals. Act i. Sc. 2.
A circulating library in a town is as an evergreen tree of diabolical knowledge. -- The Rivals. Act iii. Sc. 1.
He is the very pine-apple of politeness! -- The Rivals. Act iii. Sc. 3.
If I reprehend anything in this world, it is the use of my oracular tongue, and a nice derangement of epitaphs! -- The Rivals. Act iii. Sc. 3.


The School For Scandal

Richard Sheridan, The School For Scandal (1751-1816)

Brothers Joseph and Charles Surface, and their cousin Maria, are orphans in the care of their uncle, Sir Peter Teazle. Both brothers wish to marry Maria. Lady Sneerwell, a malicious gossip and founder of The School for Scandal, wants to marry Charles and spreads false rumours about an affair between Charles and Lady Teazle in an attempt to make Maria reject Charles. Meanwhile, Joseph is attempting to seduce Lady Teazle. The brothers have a rich uncle, Sir Oliver, whom they have never met, and who visits them both incognito to test their characters before deciding which of them shall inherit his fortune. He finds that Joseph is a sanctimonious hypocrite, and that Charles is a generous libertine, and prefers Charles.
In a farcical scene involving characters hiding behind furniture, Sir Peter learns of the plotting between Joseph and Lady Sneerwell, that the rumours about Charles and Lady Teazle are false, and that his wife is merely a victim of Joseph's flattery. He is therefore reconciled with his wife, and decides that Charles deserves to marry Maria. Lady Teazle, who has had a narrow escape from ruin, delivers an epilogue warning of the dangers of scandal-making.

Here is the whole set! a character dead at every word. -- School for Scandal. Act ii. Sc. 2.
I leave my character behind me. -- School for Scandal. Act ii. Sc. 2.
Here's to the maiden of bashful fifteen;
Here's to the widow of fifty;
Here's to the flaunting, extravagant quean,
And here's to the housewife that's thrifty!
Let the toast pass;
Drink to the lass;
I 'll warrant she 'll prove an excuse for the glass. -- School for Scandal. Act iii. Sc. 3.


Defense of Poesy/Apology for Poetry

Sir Phillip Sidney, Defense of Poesy/Apology for Poetry (1554-1586)

Sidney clearly had been contemplating the problem of the poet's role in society for a long time, perhaps since his earliest education in which he would have encountered Plato's famous banishment of poets from the ideal Republic on the grounds that they could lead the Guardians and citizens to immorality. It long has been argued that he may have been responding to Stephen Gosson, a Puritain pamphleteer whose "School of Abuse" blamed playwrights and the theatre, in particular, and poets in general, for leading English society astray. Gosson dedicated the pamphlet to Sidney without asking permission, and some poets at the time suspected Sidney would reply in some fashion. In the "Defense," Sidney argues that poets were the first philosophers, that they first brought learning to humanity, and that they have the power to conceive new worlds of being and to populate them with new creatures. According to Sidney, their "golden" world of possibility is superior to the "brazen" one of historians who must be content with the mere truth of happenstance. He then defines what he belives to be the essential formal characteristics of the various genres of poetry, and defends poetry against the charge that it is composed of lies and leads one to sin.
Golden world / poets are the true philosophers


Oedipus Rex

Sophocles, Oedipus Rex

SOME twelve years before the action of the play begins, Oedipus has been made King of Thebes in gratitude for his freeing the people from the pestilence brought on them by the presence of the riddling Sphinx. Since Laius, the former king, had shortly before been killed, Oedipus has been further honored by the hand of Queen Jocasta.
Now another deadly pestilence is raging and the people have come to ask Oedipus to rescue them as before. The King has anticipated their need, however. Creon, Jocasta's brother, returns at the very moment from Apollo's oracle with the announcement that all will be well if Laius' murderer be found and cast from the city.
In an effort to discover the murderer, Oedipus sends for the blind seer, Tiresias. Under protest the prophet names Oedipus himself as the criminal. Oedipus, outraged at the accusation, denounces it as a plot of Creon to gain the throne. Jocasta appears just in time to avoid a battle between the two men. Seers, she assures Oedipus, are not infallible. In proof, she cites the old prophecy that her son should kill his father and have children by his mother. She prevented its fulfillment, she confesses, by abandoning their infant son in the mountains. As for Laius, he had been killed by robbers years later at the junction of three roads on the route to Delphi.
This information makes Oedipus uneasy. He recalls having killed a man answering Laius' description at this very spot when he was fleeing from his home in Corinth to avoid fulfillment of a similar prophecy. An aged messenger arrives from Corinth, at this point, to announce the death of King Polybus, supposed father of Oedipus, and the election of Oedipus as king in his stead. On account of the old prophecy Oedipus refuses to return to Corinth until his mother, too, is dead. To calm his fears the messenger assures him that he is not the blood son of Polybus and Merope, but a foundling from the house of Laius deserted in the mountains. This statement is confirmed by the old shepherd whom Jocasta had charged with the task of exposing her babe. Thus the ancient prophecy has been fulfilled in each dreadful detail. Jocasta in her horror hangs herself and Oedipus stabs out his eyes. Then he imposes on himself the penalty of exile which he had promised for the murderer of Laius.


Gertrude Stein: (1874-1946)

Gertrude Stein: (1874-1946) Modernist

Most famous for The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (her own autobiography composed through the eyes of her lover).
Was more avant-guarde than most of her contemporaries, writing poems like Tender Buttons, where ordinary words and objects become separated from each other - think complete and utter randomness.
Titles include A Box, A Piece of Coffee
Also wanted to paint verbal 'portraits' of people without telling stories.
Influenced Sherwood Anderson and Hemingway.

Out of kindness comes redness and out of rudeness comes rapid same question, out of an eye comes research, out of selection comes painful cattle. So then the order is that a white way of being round is something suggesting a pin and is it disappointing, it is not, it is so rudimentary to be analysed and see a fine substance strangely, it is so earnest to

have a green point not to red but to point again.


Tristram Shandy

Lawrence Sterne, Tristram Shandy

Laurence Sterne's great comic novel, Tristram Shandy, was originally published between 1759 and 1767 in nine small separate volumes, the last appearing shortly before Sterne's death. As the title suggests, the novel sets out to tell the life story of Tristram Shandy, its narrator, beginning with his conception. However, he has so much to relate about his eccentric family that he does not manage to get born until the 4th volume. Realizing, finally, that his task is hopeless - it taking him more time to tell the story than to live his life - the novel ends by concluding that its readers have been taken in by a cock and bull story.
Each text page is characterised by an intricate system of hyphens, dashes, asterisks, and occasional crosses; remarkable use is particularly made of the dash - varying in length, these are often treated as though they were words, while the small type area and generous spacing and margins of the original volumes emphasise their visibility. Regarded as a complex masterpiece today, Dr Johnson famously asserted that its popularity had not lasted because 'Nothing odd will do long'.


Wallace Stevens: (1879-1955)

Wallace Stevens: (1879-1955)

Typical modernist searching for something to bind his life now that religion, etc fails.
Was a lawyer; composed poems to and from the office.
Is now considered pretty major,
Poems include 'The Snowman, Sunday Morning, Death of a Soldier, Of Modern Poetry
Of Modern Poetry

The poem of the mind in the act of finding

What will suffice. It has not always had

To find: the scene was set; it repeated what

Was in the script.

Then the theatre was changed

To something else. Its past was a souvenir.

It has to be living, to learn the speech of the place.

It has to face the men of the time and to meet

The women of the time. It has to think about war

And it has to find what will suffice. It has

To construct a new stage. It has to be on that stage,

And, like an insatiable actor..

Sunday Morning


Complacencies of the peignoir, and late
Coffee and oranges in a sunny chair,
And the green freedom of a cockatoo
Upon a rug mingle to dissipate
The holy hush of ancient sacrifice.
She dreams a little, and she feels the dark
Encroachment of that old catastrophe,
As a calm darkens among water-lights.
The pungent oranges and bright, green wings
Seem things in some procession of the dead,
Winding across wide water, without sound.
The day is like wide water, without sound.
Stilled for the passing of her dreaming feet
Over the seas, to silent Palestine,
Dominion of the blood and sepulcher...


Gulliver's Travels

Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels (1667-1745)

Lilliput: tiny people that try and bind Gulliver to the ground. They take Gulliver to the capital city in a specially designed wagon and he meets their royalty. Gulliver becomes a weapon against the people of Blefscu the Lilliputians have a disagreement over the proper way to crack an egg. Things go pear-shaped when Gulliver pees on the Lilliputians castle to stop a fire.
Brobdingnag: A land of giants. Farmer finds him and treats him like an animal - is sold to the queen for his musical talents. Gulliver is repulsed by their size and their enormous flaws. Everyone is ignorant. Giant animals and bugs almost kill him.
Laputa: Floating island of theoreticians and academics oppress land below called Balnibarbi. Residents are out of touch with reality. He then takes a side trip to Glubbdubdrib where people conjure up figures from history who are much less impressive in real life. Also visits the Struldbrugs who are senile immortals who are really stupid (age does not bring wisdom).
Houyhnhnm: Rational horses who rule and Yahoos (humanoid creatures) who serve them. Gulliver learns their language and teaches them the constitution of England. Enlightened by the horses, but he is banished when they realize he looks like a Yahoo. Gulliver is banished and picked up by a Portuguese ship realizes that all humansa are like the Yahoos.


Jean-Paul Satre

Jean-Paul Satre

Jean-Paul Sartre was a French existentialist philosopher, dramatist, novelist and critic.




Existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre wrote La Nausée in 1938 while he was a college professor. The Kafka-influenced novel concerns a dejected researcher in a town who becomes convinced that inanimate objects and situations encroach on his ability to define himself, on his intellectual and spiritual freedom, evoking in the protagonist a sense of nausea.
Fresh from several years of travel, 30-year-old Antoine Roquentin settles in the French seaport town of Bouville to finish his research on the life of an 18th-century political figure. But during the winter of 1932 a “sweetish sickness” he calls nausea increasingly impinges on almost everything he does or enjoys — his research project, the company of “The Self-Taught Man” who is reading all the books in the library, a pleasant physical relationship with a cafe owner named Francoise, his memories of Anny, an English girl he once loved … even his own hands and the beauty of nature. Antoine is facing the troublesomely provisional and limited nature of existence itself; he embodies Sartre’s theories of existential angst, and he searches anxiously for meaning in all the things that had filled and fulfilled his life up to that point.


No Exit

No Exit, Jean-Paul Sartre

Originally published in French in 1944 as Huis Clos, the play features only four characters (one of whom appears for only a very limited time), and one set. No Exit is the source of the famous Sartreian maxim, “Hell is other people”.

The play begins with a bellhop leading a man named Garcin into a hotel room (the play portrays Hell as a gigantic hotel, and realization of where the action is taking place dawns on the audience in the opening minutes). The room has no windows and only one door. Eventually Garcin is joined by a woman (Inez), and then another (Estelle). After their entry, the bellhop bolts the door shut. All expect to be tortured, but no torturer arrives. Instead, they realize, they are there to torture each other, which they do effectively, by probing each other’s sins, desires, and unpleasant memories. At first, the three see events concerning them that are happening on earth, though they can only observe and listen, but eventually (as their connection to Earth dwindles and the living move on) they are left with only their own thoughts and the company of the other two.


“Uncle Tom’s Cabin”

“Uncle Tom’s Cabin”

Names to associate with Uncle Tom’s Cabin:

1. Uncle Tom

2. Shelby family

3. Eliza

4. Tom Loker

5. Cassy


Harriet Beecher Stowe

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Born Harriet Elizabeth Beecher (1811-1896), an abolitionist, and writer of more than 10 books, the most famous being Uncle Tom’s Cabin which describes life in slavery, and which was first published in serial form from 1851 to 1852 in an abolitionist organ, the National Era, edited by Gamaliel Bailey. Her second novel was Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp, another anti-slavery novel.

When Stowe met Abraham Lincoln in 1862 (during the Civil War), he allegedly greeted her, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war!”


Anne Sexton (1928-1974)

Anne Sexton (1928-1974)

The modern model of the confessional poet, one perhaps begun by the publication of Heart’s Needle, by W.D. Snodgrass. Sexton helped open the door not only for female poets, but for female issues; Sexton wrote about menstruation, abortion, masturbation, and adultery before such issues were even topics for casual discussion, helping redefine the boundaries of poetry. Sexton modeled for Boston’s Hart Agency. She committed suicide in 1974.


Edmund Spenser

Edmund Spenser

There are a few things about Spenser that you definitely need to know.

1. The Spensarian stanza. You need to be able to identify it. The rhyme scheme ABABBCBCC. The first eight lines are iambic pentameter, and the last line is iambic hexameter (called an alexandrine). The GRE, out of some love of anachronism, badly wants you to know what an alexandrine is, so learn it.
2. If you know that the language of his poetry is purposely antique, you will have no problem picking it out, especially since it doesn’t really look like Chaucer, anyway; think of it as an imitation of Chaucher, and you approach a description of Spenser’s poetry.

Spenserian sonnet

Edmund Spenser employed an a-b-a-b, b-c-b-c, c-d-c-d, e-e rhyme scheme – as evidenced in his Amoretti sequence. This form has not been particularly popular.


John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

English philosopher and political economist, was an influential liberal thinker of the 19th century. He was an advocate of utilitarianism. His notable works include:

(1859) On Liberty:

Perhaps the most memorable point made by Mill in this work, and his basis for liberty, is that “Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign”. Mill is compelled to say this due to what he calls the “tyranny of the majority” (a line from Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America), wherein through control of etiquette and morality, society is an unelected power that can do horrific things.

(1869) The Subjection of Women: a progressive work in which Mill changes the mistreatment of women from a philosophical, moral, and economic perspective.

“What is poetry” — This is an essay in which Mill defines poetry athe expression of the self to the self.