English 339 Review Notes

See also: SPECIAL REVIEW SHEET ON VICENTE HUIDOBRO prepared by Jeaveen Nowak

Group 1. Rzepka, Tai, Szudzik
Langston Hughes 651-655
Carl Rakosi 552-554
Hiccups by Leon Damas (pg.572-574)

Hughes' "Dream Boogie" shows characteristics of an upbeat sound with an underlining sense of sadness. The words "dream deferred" gives reference to feelings of a person putting off their dreams for a later time because of hardship, such slavery. This can also be taken in context to slave songs and how the slaves to become free had to use song to communicate information about the underground railroad. Slaves had to pretend to be obedient so their families wouldn't be hurt. This poem relates to the fight for civil rights and is an expression of their repression set in the social context of the Harlem Renaissance.

In "Parade" the characteristics of the loud words seem to describe how proud the blacks are of their color, race, and their struggle. They may not have gotten far with their marching but eventually they will?no matter how long they try. In the poem the fact that the whites seemed to always ride in their cars or motorcycles while the blacks always follow their lead on foot conveys the message of a lower class. One that doesn't have rides but must walk behind and to slowly get somewhere. They are proud to be who they are and proud of the fact that they are willing to fight long and hard to gain respect and acknowledgement. This poem is about discriminations and the plight of African Americans in this society fighting slowly but surely for their civil rights.

Rakosi "Journey Away" p. 552-554
Journey Away begins as one mans dream.
- it is believed that the man is rich or married into wealth
- he describes his luxuries, his wedding, and his happiness
- his happiness later decends into sadness when he realizes that he misses the life of liking simple things, like "like a canary singing in the dark"
- large use of colors, such as, dark, black, blue, white and golden. The use of these colors represent his feelings at that particular moment. *very significant*
- poem ends without letting the reader know whether or not he woke up and it was a dream, or if he wished he was simply dreaming about the reality of his life.

Hiccups by Leon Damas (pg.572-574)

The poem deals with a African American looking back at his childhood, noticing how his mother wanted him refined and polite, to be more like the upper class in society.

~The title and use of hiccups in the poem is representative of the involuntary feeling of guilt the speaker has when remembering how he failed to live up to his mother's expectations
~The structure of parts of the poem are in the form of indented lists, listing numerous things the child should or should not do, bringing out the redundancy of numerous things expected from the child.
~Note the repetition of the lines "Talk about calamity talk about disasters I'll tell you". It brings forth a sarcastic tone, noting how unimportant the speaker feels his mother's concerns are.
~ At the end of the poem, the musical scale is incorporated to emphasize the mother's desire to move up in society
~ The violin can be viewed as more classy than a banjo or guitar, adding to the desire to be of upper class. Also violin is not completely separated in syllables with the word 'or', making the word sound less harsh.
~ The emphasis on colored versus black folks at the end demonstrates the mother's desire to separate from the bad stereotypes that might exist with people referred to as 'black' (more harsh than use of colored people).

Group 2. Hasson, Verruso, Cho
Lorca 453-457
Reznikoff 546-551
Senghor reading, pages 564-567 "Taga for Mbaye Dyob"

pg. 453 Night Suite by Lorca

Structure of each section is like movements in a
musical composition. First part sounds bluesy - "that
road got no people," and "this crawfish gone to

"At the poorhouse" is kinda shakepsearean and almost
funny because of its repetition, "O, sorrow!"

One of the themes is the cosmos - constellations and
other space bodies are constantly mentioned, sirius,
space, stars, earth, milkyway, universe.

The poet is emptying his mind and not concerning
himself with current events of his day.

The stars and our galaxy are a constant, are
unaffected while the world down below is in turmoil.

The Charles Reznikoff poem, "Testimony"pg. 546-551

Four short-story events make up Reznikoff's poem,
"Testimony." It seems to have a historical context
for the era where factory considtions in industrial
America were unbelieveably bad and when there were no
child labor laws to convern such.

It is also about immigrants coming to America and
attempting to assimilate into a new culture.

At the end of each part, someone is either in danger
or has died. Depressing!

This is for group 2. It is the Senghor reading, pages 564-567 "Taga for Mbaye Dyob"

Author precedes the poem with a kind of essay about the significance of speech claiming it is the main instrument of thought, emotion and action. He later continues to highlight this point by discussing the power of speech in Africa. African language is extremely rich in in vocabulary. The African image is a surrealist image and African surrealism is mystical and metaphysical.
He also states that images are not equations, as we commonly see them, but rather symbols and idealogies in themselves. He also highlights the importance of a heirarchy of universal forces in African language, and because of this, one's level in society corresponds to their speech.
After explaining that, Senghor then commences to his poem. It is meant to be an african song with a drum tone (the tama) and a string instrument (the kora). And seems to be an honor song ode to a slave or peasant from his master, who wants to praise his honor. This is strange because it is rare for a master to honor his slave but even more rare to use the slave's own language and to do it. This hints that perhaps the "slave" in the poem, was much more than that, and his suffering is not honored in the most respected way possible.

Group 3. Fischman, Driesen, Hackspacher
Vallejo 400-405
Oppen 536-545
Senghor, "The Kaya Magan" 568-569

outlines notes of the poem on page 400--

-the spelling of strive and drive into one word: sdrive
-the word deflect starts off with three Ds and decreases as the poem
goes on. it finally changes to teflect on the third line, which is
showing the failure of deflection (right after word fail)

This is a poem of a broken heart. It has a provocative use of language
often infering a sexual/loving relationship which ends in heartache for
the man writing. (we can discuss more if needed)

social context:
he spent time in jail despite innocense and was then later released.

on "Man and Beast"

This poem starts in the evening. Man is symbolic of the day time, while beast is symbolic of night.
The poem shows the fight between night and day. This fight is an inevitable, constant, ongoing battle.
It uses the idea of when darkness comes that evil comes out. In the poem, the swamp discussed is a beast
because evil comes out of it. The evening is described as a negative thing in the poem. The description given
with the evening into night is flys, nats, toads, and snakes. At the same time the transition from night into day is
lake bloom into waterlillys. "The dawn of diving laughter" makes it seem like a beautiful thing.

"The Kaya Magan"

This is poem deals with the emporer of a dynasty. The poem is interesting because it discusses the breasts on a man
in depth, which is potrayed as a characteristic unique to women. It also brings up a good point when it says that the segregation
between blacks and whites is always discussed, but what about the redman (meaning Indian). The poem also talks about the
humanity related to Africa. The words are from Africa, saying that the Africans were the first people and that their future is
coming. He says that nature, sun, day and night, late to him--the central figure.

Group 4. Aaron Lelito, Claire Duffett, Andrea Juda
Tolson 609-613
Bunting 554-556
Damas 570-572

Melvin B. Tolson - pg. 609-613
From "The Harlem Gallery: Book I, The Curator"
In this poem two men are talking in a smoky jazz club, but the scene is presented through a series of disjointed images and daydream-like imagery. This "kaleidoscopic" effect makes the scene very unclear and indistinct. As a part of the Harlem Renaissance, Tolson views this poetry and jazz as being revolutionary, since they mark distinct African American artforms that are meant to subvert the logic and reason of the white artistic tradition.

Basil Bunting - pg. 554-556
"Weeping oaks grieve, chestnuts raise" and "Vestiges"
The first poem is about the immortality of time, which moves in a perpetual cycle. The comparison of the coming of spring to the coming of waves in the sea has the effect of reducing the changes that accompany the change of season to a mere repetition of a timeless cycle. The second poem also deals with time, but from the angle of the insignificance of man's actions. For example, the soldier in part II distrusts his talents that "brought most of the world under one law," hinting that in time that law is only in a period of hesitation and will eventually fall.

Group 4:
Leon Damas

This poem has a strong underlying connection to the goals of negritude. It explores the ways in which the white man tries to morph the blacks into Frenchman who just happen to have dark skin. This is idea is embodied in the first stanza, where Africans are told to gloss down their hair, and model themselves after the white man's appearance. This poem also has a nostalgic tone. The speaker longs for his 'native hills,' and a way of life independent of oppression.

Both the title and the text of the second poem indicate that it is a warning. In a harsh comparison, the speaker juxtaposes Hitler’s treatment of the Jews to the French treatment of blacks. This warning indicates that the abuse against the blacks in France is steadily growing, and it will ultimately escalate to violent acts of cruelty. Oppression is disease-like, quietly taking hold until it eventually spreads like an epidemic.

Group 5. Jeaveen Nowak, Jason Viola, Hyejyo Kwon
Guillen 666-672
Zukofsky 533-536
Césaire and Depestre 561-564

"Don't Know No English" p.666
-may be directly interpreted as not being able to "sweet talk" a lady and perhaps should not even try because the subject would be defeated
-may also be interpreted to mean that subject cannot speak American English and must therefore not even attempt to speak
-could also be interpreted as not having the capacity to speak out against a repressive government as the subject will never be heard, comprehended, nor taken seriously

-a poem that should perhaps be uttered rather than read
-a chant or ritual
-speech act exorcism of an evil presence
-chant as a means of silencing
-chant as a group effort to drown out evil, evoke a god, summons
-chant as a means of breaking the sound barrier; the silencing and repressiveness of an other party

"Wake for Papa Montero"
-Perhaps a story about a dead musician
-Two candles are "too bright" for such a dark day
-Perhaps a story of a man who was silenced by death
-An elegy

-Good imagery
-"Metallic mammal"-a sign of strength, possessing artillery, possessing a shield
-"appears to be eaten by acne"-something as strong as a "metallic mammal" can still be violated and conquered/ infested by "Sputniks and sonnets"
-a sign of illness in something so beautiful; a people infested by another country

"The Usurers"
-Buzzards present-scavenger animals that prey on the dead much like war preys on the deceased soldiers in battle
-"That devours its offspring"-the "Common Torpedo"-an immoral animal; animal of war; so evil that it attacks its own
-"usurers count and recount their feathers"-satirical comment about the mercenary "other" government that dominates the victim country-comment on unfair representation

"The Daily Daily"
-satirical announcement
-"all demonstrations …are strictly prohibited."-all who are not White Anglo Saxon Protestants of America must remain silent.
-Calvin Cooleriche: as noveau riche-explores the notion that North America has robbed Cuba of its natural resources, especially in 'CUBAN SUGAR CANE: 100 PERCENT DISCOUNT STORE'
-sign of violation and direct takeover of goods and raw materials

p.533 Zukofsky

-Previously written statements used in different arrangements; does not use his own phrases but regurgitates others in a sort of "epic."
-put together in an incomprehensible form so as to represent THE EPIC-with citations (numbers alongside the text) and "Fifth Movement: Autobiography"
-put together in an annotated form
-words do not have an intrinsic meaning
-poem as an object, in and of itself; no emotion extracted from words, but a point made in the form of the piece-as historical text, REPRESENTATIVE (THE).

Aimé Césaire: MACUMBA WORD

It is remarkable to note, throughout this piece, after having read Césaire's Discourse on Colonialism, with René Depestre, how she does not capitalize the word "I." I, which is a subject pronoun deserving of capitalization for proper, appears in lower case. It is almost as if the poet draws attention to it, in a sense, as if to say, "Look, this is what colonialism has reduced me to." However, following those "i"s with action clauses, she gives the "i" motion. This is an affirmation of herself and a reassertion of the people that she is representing throughout Macumba Word. Speaking directly in the poem of how the word can be liberating and can act, she is almost appealing to the victims of colonialism to speak out against assimilation and stand proud in their roots; to let the roots grow into something bigger than the here-and-now. Even Césaire can "sneak a swim on the back of a dolphin word." Even Césaire can "trace a word in the dirt." If she can stand up, rise up, and be proud of who she is and where she came from, amidst the repressing government she resides under, than so can her readers. They can liberate themselves in speech, in literature, in art!

Aimé Césaire and René Depestre: DISCOURSE ON COLONIALISM

Aimé Césaire and René Depestre are holding a conversation on the term negritude and its first-time use by Césaire in an interview with the author. Césaire does admit that she uses the term briefly in her work as an act of defiance against colonialism. Speaking with Depestre, she realizes the effect that colonialism has had in reducing the pride that Blacks feel for their African roots living in European countries. She also feels that such countries have quieted their culture and these individuals have likewise assimilated to the new European climate. Césaire's defiance and anger grows out of reading Haitian literature and being in touch with other art forms by Blacks that have, as Depestre puts it, "allowed themselves to be assimilated," (Rothenberg & Joris Eds, 561). Depestre comments also, that independence for Haitians grew out of an attack on the French that such authors and artists had not participated in, which illustrates how they have been rendered inferior by such European cultures. Césaire defines the term negritude as "a concrete rather than an abstract coming to consciousness," for Black artists living in European or American countries (Rothenberg & Joris Eds, 562). What had once been the view of African sculpture and art as eccentric or exotic has now changed to become the "life-giving sperm of the twentieth century of the spirit," (Einstein/Guillaume, Rothenberg & Joris Eds, 563). For the first time in years, African culture is recognized for its value, and for the beauty and civilization that led to much of the art that it had birthed for generations to follow. Césaire recognizes that histories of the world, which at one point devoted only a chapter or so to African culture and its contributions should really devote more space to such a rich culture with much to be proud of; as "a heritage worthy of respect," (Rothenberg & Joris Eds, 563). For Césaire and Depestre, that is Negritude.

Group 6. Wallace, Moska. Katafiaz
Guillen 666-672
WCW 529-533
Cesaire, Notebook (1 of 2) 575-577

Guillen : His poems have a double meaning ie. in sensemaya the snake is
more than a snake, it might stand for America. His poems are as a whole
very anti-America and anti-buisness. His poems also have violence in them
and he seems to be trying to say something important in all of his poems
insofar as he wants to keep his reader from danger.

Williams: He uses stereotypes in this poem. He also makes references to
contrasts perhaps to illustrate the fact that they should not matter ie.
caste system, rich vs poor. this poem is in two parts- it seems like the
second part starts to defend the first part but he then goes on to attack
his work after defending it, again showing his use of contrasts. He also
defines words in this poem perhaps asking if words can have different
meanings than the ones already assigned to them. He seems to seek a world
where the words poor and rich mean nothing.

Group 6 (Wallace, Moskal, Katafiaz)
Aime Cesaire/575-577

"Native Land" is Haiti. The piece starts out with the bloody history of
the land (during the 1800's Haiti was a French colony and there were many
exteremly bloody battles between all the parties ie. French military,
slaves, free colored people and the white land owners all fought each other
at various times). For Cesaire it is his native land and he accepts it no
matter what the history or unattractive elements it might have. He
connects with the land and finds his villian in Europe much like Guillen's
villian is America. He speaks of things like Voodoo and Hoodoo, which are
prominent beliefs in the Haitian culture, and ties them in with talk about
the land as if to say that the land is as much a part of these people as is
their religious beliefs. This extereme sense of nationalism is confusing
because he shows us all the bad things in Haiti, ie. volcanos. It seems
like he is saying that he accepts God's will and that those atrocities of
nature are part of the natural circle of life. On the other hand there is
the atrocoties created by man that he does not accept. He will not accept
any man who plays God. He then continues with a history of the people, the
slaves. This serves as a Negritude in the land. He is saying good-bye to
the old ways, to the old slaves and to the old Negritude. In place of this
he will substitute his new ideas of what Black people are.

Group 7. Menczynski, Zivkovic, Kane
Huidobro 185-189
Huidobro 406-416
Cesaire, Notebook (2 of 2) 578-580

See also: SPECIAL REVIEW SHEET ON VICENTE HUIDOBRO prepared by Jeaveen Nowak

Vicente Huidobro
Ars Poetica pp185
Mainly this poem is about creation. That words can create new worlds, in the minds eye. Rather than being an artist on canvas, the words paint pictures in the soul and mind. The muscle hangs, I saw this as being the brain as a muscle, and it hangs on words to find understanding. For us alone do all things live beneath the sun, this could say that life can be found in, around, on and beneath the sun. There is life in everything we do and see, life in plants, in words and in emotions. The poet is a little God, he says this because God is a creator, creator of heaven and earth, and this is what the poet is doing, creating his own reality.

Notebook of a Return to the Native Land 578-580

This poem is about rebellion, with a metaphor of ship as a controllable vessel of time - navigated first by the whites but later dwarfed and circumstantiated by freedom and universality of the soul. As the ship begins to come undone, control is lost by its captain (white elitism). The captain in vain tries to set an example (maybe like Melville's characters in Moby Dick or Billy Budd), but by slaughtering the body, he releases the soul into its greatest element of freedom - existence as omnipresence. There is an apostrophe to God or nature to unify the individual with the objective omniscience. The terms "to you I surrender" "embrace us" and "bind me" denote subordinance only to the intangible or inorganic, not the mortal, and the references to "rise, Dove, rise, rise" and "I follow you who are imprinted on my ancestral white cornea" allude to a rise to heaven to meet the Deity that may be God, or may be one's own soul.

8. Deixler, Seifert
Whitman 28-30
Cesaire 581-582

Walt Whitman "This Compost"
Whitman begins the poem in a pensive tone questioning the splendor and
grandeur of nature. He poses and then answers his own questions of the
miracle of nature and how something(s) so beautiful is able to come from
something so vile such as compost, or rotting bodies buried in the ground.
The overall tone of the poem is one of awe-struck doubt, as Whitman marvels
at how nature and all the beauty surrounding it is "sprouted" from the
ground and all the terrible things that are buried in it such as disease,
and bodies, and compost. The poem gave our group a feeling of new
beginning or life springing from death...."circle of life."

Cesaire 581-582

Aime Cesaire “The Miraculous Weapons”
The author speaks of the destruction of the planet, the decline of the human race and how war is often fought in the name of god. The poem also speaks of how man’s selfishness is often satisfied at the expense of humanity and the natural resources of this planet.