Tag Archives: poetry

 Rotten Reviews: The Prelude (William Wordsworth)

“Rotten Reviews: The Prelude (William Wordsworth)

‘The story is the old story. There are the old raptures about mountains and cataracts. The old flimsy philosophy about the effect of scenery on the mind; the old crazy mystical metaphysics; the endless wilderness of dull, flat, prosaic twaddle…,”

 T.B. Macaulay, in his journal

Excerpted from: Barnard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998. 

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

“’The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock: A poem by T.S. Eliot (1888-1965), first published in 1915. It depicts the doubts and sexual inhibitions of a shy Bostonian by the name of J. Alfred Prufrock. Eliot took the name of his celebrated central character from that of a St. Louis furniture company.

‘I grow old… I grow old…

I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled…

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think they will sing for me.

T.S. Eliot: ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’”

Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.

Cultural Literacy: Two Worksheets on Rudyard Kipling

Let’s move along with a couple of Rudyard Kipling-related Cultural Literacy worksheets, the first a simple biography of the writer, the second a short but cogent analysis of his unfortunate poem “The White Man’s Burden.” If you teach global studies, or whatever your school district calls a broad survey of world history, the latter document might be useful in helping students develop their own understanding of the uses of culture to create, buttress, and therefore justify ideology, in this case the depredations of European colonialism.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Kubla Khan

“”Kubla Khan: A famously unfinished, opium-induced poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), who had claimed to have written down as much as he could of what he had just been dreaming before being interrupted by the arrival of ‘a person on business from Porlock.’ Composed while Coleridge was living in Somerset in 1797-8, the poem was first published in Christabel and Other Poems (1816). It bears little relation to the historical Kublai Khan (1215-94), the grandson of Genghis Khan. Kublai led the Mongol conquest of China and made himself the first emperor of the Yuan dynasty in 1279. He was made famous in Europe by Marco Polo, who spent 20 years at Kublai’s court.”

Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.

Two Reading and Comprehension Worksheets on Bob Dylan

The first record I owned, at the age of ten or eleven, was Pete Seeger Sings Woody GuthrieMy father brought it home for me one day. I loved it from the first time I listened to it, and I still listen to it now. Within a couple of years, I managed to follow Woody Guthrie’s influence to Bob Dylan, whose music I also continue to listen to almost 50 years later. In fact, many of his records, particularly Blood on the Tracks and John Wesley Harding receive almost weekly play here at Mark’s Text Terminal.

To my mind, it’s nearly impossible to underestimate the cultural importance of Bob Dylan’s work. In fact, so much ink has been spelled on it by so many astute critics that I hardly need to belabor the point here. While I know his selection for the Nobel Prize in Literature is controversial, my own opinion is that the man who wrote “Desolation Row” and “Visions of Johanna,” to mention just two of his most brilliant songs, certainly earned his laurels as a writer of lasting worth and importance.

So, last but not least on this May morning, I have two sets of readings and comprehension worksheets on Bob Dylan. The first set is a general biography of Bob Dylan’s musical career and is in some respects anodyne. The second set, which to some extent, by comparison, renders the first set of documents anodyne, is this reading and comprehension worksheet on Bob Dylan’s switch to electric music in 1965 and his legendary (or legendarily disastrous) appearance at the Newport Folk Festival in that year. It’s worth mentioning that Dylan’s appearance at Newport in 1965 is something of a cultural touchstone, both a gotterdammerung moment and an intimation of what was to come in American popular music. It pops up in various places as a reference point to a particular moment in the history of popular music.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Walt Whitman

Last but not least this morning, on a lovely spring morning, what more appropriate than a reading on Walt Whitman along with its vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet?

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Annie Allen

“Annie Allen: (1949) A book by Gwendolyn Brooks, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1950. Its three parts fom a connected sequence about a black girl growing to womanhood. ‘Notes from the Childhood and the Girlhood’ includes eleven poems which provide glimpses of Annie’s birth, her practical and didactic mother, and her response to racism, killing, and death. ‘The Anniad,’ a mock heroic poem in forty-three stanzas, and three ‘Appendix’ poems, reveal Annie’s dreams of a gallant lover who goes off to war, returns home, marries her, leaves her, and returns home to die. The fifteen poems of ‘The Womanhood’ show how Annie looks bravely at a world she would like to reform. By the end, her outlook on life has changed from egoistic romanticism into realistic idealism.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

Arna Bontemps

“Arna [Wendell] Bontemps: (1902-1973) American writer, librarian, and teacher. Born in Alexandria, Louisiana, Bontemps moved to California at the age of three. After graduating from Pacific Union college in 1923, he moved to Harlem, where he emerged as an award-winning poet during the Harlem Renaissance. His best-known works, however, are his novels, particularly Black Thunder (1936), and historical novel about the abortive slave rebellion led by Gabriel Prosser in the Virginia of 1800. Bontemps’s most enduring legacy was his work as a librarian and historian of African-American culture. During his twenty-two year career as Librarian at Fisk University, he created one of the principal archival sources for study in the field. Among Bontemps’s thirty works are two additional novels, God Sends Sunday (1931) and Drums at Dusk (1939); a major anthology of folklore coedited with Langston Hughes, The Book of Negro Folklore (1958). A collection of memoirs, The Harlem Renaissance Remembered: Essays (1972); and several histories and fictional accounts of black life written for a juvenile audience. He collaborated with Countee Cullen to transform God Sends Sunday into a successful Broadway musical, St. Louis Woman (1945).”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

Book of Answers: Countee Cullen

Was Countee Cullen male or female? The poet of the Harlem Renaissance was male.

Excerpted from: Corey, Melinda, and George Ochoa. Literature: The New York Public Library Book of Answers. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993.

Matsuo Basho II

“Refinement’s origin:

The remote north country’s

Rice-planting song.”

Matsuo Basho

Poem (translation by Bernard Lionel Einbond)

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.