Literary Response

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Literary Response #7

When examining a poet’s oeuvre one notes the various thematic elements that are not only characteristic of individual poems they construct, but also the broad scope and trends linking the entire collection of their work. In some regards then, grasping a poet’s ultimate message requires an examination of their entire canon. Consider poet James Wright, whose writing style exhibits a regional flair, with attention to the profound subtleties of daily existence. It has been said of him that, “The poverty and human suffering Wright witnessed as a child profoundly influenced his writing and he used his poetry as a mode to discuss his political and social concerns” (Bunk). Indeed, a general perusal of Wright’s work reveals his interest in political concerns, but the most underlining features of his writing are the social and human concerns he addresses with great clarity. Consider his seminal poem ‘A Blessing’. In this poem Wright describes his encounter with two horses, and describes the meeting like he might an interaction with another person whom he cares dearly. In ‘A Note Left in Jimmy Leonard’s Shack,’ Wright continues his characteristic use of clear dialogue and concerns with daily human existence. For instance, he writes, “He’s drunk or dying now, I don’t know which,/ Rolled in the roots and garbage like a fish,/ The poor old man” (Wright 1806). While lacking stylistic complexity, it’s clear that the most unifying traits of Wright’s work is this ability to explore meaningful human concerns with great ease and clarity.

In considering the poems of Edward Arlington Robinson one is drawn to the stark contrast his writing holds from that of James Wright. E.A. Robinson’s work has is more classically ‘poetic’ in that it is much more stylized, with some poems containing rhyming schemes and even iambic pentameter. While throughout the entire canon of Robinson’s work one is capable of identifying a plethora of themes, perhaps because of his...
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