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Literary Renaissance, Essay Example

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The period of the American literary Renaissance historically marks a certain general blossoming of creativity in American literature, however, it seems that it would be too cursory and inaccurate to classify these writers in terms of a shared commitment to a particular world view or ideology. Rather, what brings these authors together is their obvious shared status as contemporaries and an expansive creativity in terms of writing, in particular, with an attentiveness to the tradition of writing itself. Perhaps, therefore, this tradition can be united in terms of these authors having themselves discovered the rich tradition of English literature, seeking to contribute to this corpus in their own unique ways.

Consider for example Robinson’s Richard Cory, with its almost folktale like qualities: here, the richness of folk arts and tradition, with their often times profound melancholy dressed in a simple form is presented to the reader. The straightforward bluntness of this folk style is exemplified in the poem’s last line, where Richard Cory, “went home and put a bullet through his head.” (137) The frankness combined with despair make for a striking combination of folk arts, and perhaps is why folk musicians such as Paul Simon subsequently returned to such texts for inspiration.

This same traditional element is arguably also represented in the work of Robert Frost, whose “The Ax-Helve” uses archaic words to once again summon up the images of English literature. Consider the opening lines: “I’ve known ere now an interfering branch/Of alder catch my lifted ax behind me.” (144) Obscure terminology here gives the poem a historical dimension, tapping into the greater tradition of English literature. The writers of this period of the American Renaissance thus mine the rich tradition of English literature, so as to create something entirely their own. The commitment to tradition here is not one in inspired by imitation, but rather, as the word “Renaissance” itself suggests, a re-birth.

Works Cited

Perkins. Week Six. Literary Renaissance/A Literature of Social and Cultural

Challenge Part I –     Poetry.

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