Saturday, 30 September 2017

How Can the Poem “Wild Nights-Wild Nights” be Regarded as a Poem of Mystic Experience?



The poem “Wild Nights- Wild Nights” apparently reads like a poem of sexual pleasures enjoyed with lover during nights. The poet says if she were with her lover, the wild nights would be a luxury. The wild nights would be a luxury means the poet will enjoy unbounded sexual pleasures with her lover during nights. On reading the poem, the first thing that occurs to a reader is this unbounded enjoyment. But is one level at which the poem can be interpreted in the way- in the way of sexual enjoyment. But it can be interpreted at another level at which it can be seen as a description of mystic experience- experience of the pleasures of union with God. The mystic experience of the famous mystic have been described in terms of worldly pleasures like pleasures from drinking wine, or pleasures from sexual enjoyment. The poet of “Wild Nights- Wild Nights” may have tried to express her mystic experience through the medium of the description of sexual pleasures to an extent of unboundness. From that point of view, the expression “Were I with thee”, means if she were with God, and “wild nights” should be/ our luxury” means the poet’s experiences of intense pleasures in the company of God. The poem therefore has religious significance since mysticism is a term of religious connotations, having relation with God, and experience of God’s company.

Discuss Langston Hughes as an Anti-Racialist.



Racism or racialism is any action, practice, or belief that reflects the racial worldview-the ideology that humans are divided into separate and exclusive biological entities called “races”, that there is a casual link between inherited physical traits and traits of personality, intellect, morality, and other cultural behavioural features, and that some races are innately superior to others. Racism was at the heart of North American slavery and the overseas colonisation and empire-building activities of some western Europeans, especially in the 18th century.

There had been many persons in history who objected to this racist ideal. They are called anti-racialists. Langston Hughes was one of them, and many of his poems bear evidence of his anti-racialist attitude.

“The Negro Speaks of Rivers” is apparently concerned with proving the ancientness of the Negro race, but at a deeper level it is a protest against slavery of the black Americans through hundreds of great racial intolerance, injustice, and inequality in America. Hughes inspired and united the black community when their voice was not accepted by the predominantly white society. As a result, he became the protest of the black Americans against the discrimination made by the whites against the Negroes.

The poem “I, Too, Sing America” is about someone who is claiming his American identity and civil rights. He is a black American who expresses his condition as a slave at a white man’s house, and hopes that sometime in the future he will be able to sit at the same table with the white guests at his master’s house. This poem was published in 1945, a decade before the Civil Rights Movement started in America. The Civil Right Movement aimed at ending the racial segregation and discrimination between the Negroes and the white Americans, and wining constitutional rights for voting for the black people. About 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, the African Americans were living in a sordid world of disenfranchisement, segregation, suppression and oppression and racial violence. This poem “I have a dream”, by Martin Luther King, Jr. a decade later.

Thus, in the above poems, we find many traces of Hughes’ anti-racialist attitude. In many other poems of Hughes such traces are also discernible.

Do You Find the Use of Any Symbol in Whitman’s Poem “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d”?



A symbol is anything that signifies or stands for something else. In this sense all words are symbol. Symbol may be public or conventional or private. “The cross”, “the red” etc are public or conventional symbols they signify objects of which the further significance is fixed and traditional in a particular culture. Private symbol are those whose significance the writers generate for themselves, and the readers are in difficulty in understanding them.

Whiteman’s symbols are mostly private or personal. In “when Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d” we find symbol which are mostly of that natural. The poem belongs to Drum-Taps volume. The very title indicates or symbolizes all that are connected with war-the drum-call, bombs, clatter of weapons, etc. lilac is of Persian origin, and symbolize manly love. In the poem “When Lilac Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d” Lilac symbolizes his love for the great leader (Lincoln) whom he loves most. Lilac also symbolizes the recurrence of the memory of Lincoln. The heart-shaped green leaves stands for the lush, unadulterated feelings that come out from the heart of man.

In the beginning of the poem “Spring” has been addressed as a deity which will bring the trinity to him. Spring symbolizes recurrence of every existence after its temporary extinction. In the context of the poem, it symbolizes the recurrence of the memory of thee great leader, Lincoln, and consequent to the recurrence, is the immortality of the great soul.

The symbol in the poem is the western star, Venus. It is a complex symbol. Sometimes it symbolizes Lincoln himself who, in the eyes of the poet, is very lofty as a leader, and far brighter and larger than any other leader of America up to the time of Whitman. But sometimes it symbolizes a heavenly body having mystic relationship with the terrestrial beings. Sometimes it symbolizes the recurrence of the memory of Lincoln.

The next symbol is the “hermit-thrush”’ which is shy, withdrawn, from other birds or animals, and pours out melodious song from the recesses of the swamp. The thrush is identified with the bird is the threw of the poet himself. The bird’s song tallies the voice of the poet’s spirit.

The funeral procession of Lincoln’s corpse symbolizes a spiritual journey towards understanding death. It begins in sorrow and gloom, but ends in joy and serenity of spirit, an acceptance of death as the happy ending of life.

Grass is a recurrent symbol in Whitman’s poetry. It symbolizes democracy, and also the miracle of the universe, the mystery of life and nature.

“I” in Whitman’s poetry symbolizes the whole of the humanity at large, human beings of all places and times.

Besides the above-mentioned symbols, many other symbols occur. Whitman’s symbols are unique- they are for all people of all times, and they evoke emotions and feelings essential for the understanding of the significance of his poetry.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Pain and Suffering and Growth are One of the Prominent Themes of Dickinson’s Poetry.



Dickinson’s poetic world is permeated with pain and suffering and the struggle to evade, face, overcome and wrest meaning from it, or growing from it. Suffering is central to her poetic faith, and it is involved in the creative processes as well. It is part of her ambivalent response to the mysteries of time and nature. Suffering plays a major role in her poems on suffering. Her poems on the subjects of suffering and growth can be divided into three groups: (1) poems that focus on deprivation as a cause of suffering, (2) those dealing with suffering bring compensatory rewards or spiritual growth.

Love-deprivation lies behind many of her poems. “Renunciation is a Piercing Virtue” deals with theme of her abandoning the hope of a beloved person. However, she is less visible here than in some of her poems where a lover is visible, and she is not clear about the final meaning of her painful experience.

Some of her poems deal with childhood deprivation. In them she  is explicit about the sources of her suffering, but they are less powerful than her general treatment of suffering. “Pain-has an Element of Blank” is one of her poems in which her anguish goes on indefinitely. It is a timeless suffering, mental, rather than physical. “After Great Pain a Feeling Comes” is Dickinson’s most popular poem about suffering, and one of her greatest poems. The pain is psychological here, and there is no real damage to the body and no pursuit of healing. “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain” is about death, but it seems to be a dramatization and a final sinking into a proactive numbness like that portrayed in “After Great Pain”.

Some of Dickinson’s poems about poetry and art reflect her belief that suffering is necessary for creativity.

Poems on love and on Nature suggest that suffering will lead to a fulfilment of love or that the fatality which she feels present in Nature elevates her and sharpen her sensibility.

“My Cocoonn Tightens, Colours Tease” is both a lighter and a sadder treatment of the pursuit of truth. Its metaphor of self as a butterfly makes u think that it is about the struggle for personal growth.

“Dare you see a soul at the White Heat?” is a poem of celebration of growth through suffering. The blacksmith’s forge is described as a symbol of every soul which passes through the fires of rebirth.

Pain and suffering are, to Dickinson, the very expression of eternity. The infinity of human suffering is brought out in mystical terms in the poem “Pain- Has an Element of Blank”. Pain is a consummate experience which paves the way for Heaven. In “The Hallowing of Pain” the poet says that Heaven is not achieved by one who labours in the midway, that is, half-heartedly, but he reaches heaven who tries with utmost pain to reach there. The road to Heaven is covered with hurdles of pain.

Dickinson believes that the happiest experience of life become more vivid and picturesque, and therefore more memorable when they are seen from the vantage point of suffering and anguish.

Dickinson was a great poet of pain and suffering and growth, and spiritual regeneration through them. Her poetic feelings of such emotions are intense, trough they are sometimes hidden beneath the grab of rhetorical figures.

Discuss Dickinson’s Attitude Towards Life and Love



Attitude to life is a very comprehensive term which encompasses a great many aspects of life. Life consists of not a few elements, but almost an infinite variety of things. However, a poet usually does have some attitude towards life which in his/her case may mean he/she highlights some particular aspect of life – not too many, of course. In the case of Emily Dickinson we find that she has highlighted some important aspects of life - friendship, society, pain and suffering and growth in life, and the most potent factor of life, that is love.

In some of Dickinson’s poems she talks about dear a person who seems to be regarded more as beloved friends than as objects of romantic ardour. Later in life Dickinson wrote to Samuel Bowles, “My friends are my estate”, and still later she declared that letters feel to her like immortality because they contain the mind “Without corporeal friend”.  From her statements it seems that sometimes she treasured friendship held at a distance more than the actual presence of friends.

Dickinson has distinctive views on pain, suffering, and growth as an integral part of life. Suffering plays a major role in her poems about death and immortality, just as death appears in her poem on suffering. Her poems on the themes of suffering and growth belong to three groups: (1) deprivation as a cause of suffering; (2) suffering leading to disintegration, and (3) suffering as bringing compensatory rewards of spiritual growth.

Some of her poems reflect her belief that suffering is necessary for creativity. Poems on love and on nature suggest that suffering will lead to a fulfilment of love or that the fatality which one feels in nature elevates one and sharpen his sensibility. “Death-blow is a life blow to some” implies that every apparent evil has a corresponding good, and good is never brought to birth without evil.

Dickinson considered the subject of love from a philosophical point of view, although her love-poetry had its source in her own experience of passion. She glorified love to such a degree that it was almost equated with God. Love, in her eyes, triumphs over both life and death, and achieves an almost divine status.

The poems of her early period contain her most sentimental passion of life. Poems dealing with brides and marriages are her most artistic love poems. The human love remains shadowy, and the vision of the lover’s heavenly marriage changes to an actual celestial union with god. The blending of spiritual love and human passion occurs in some other group of poems. “Title Divine is Mine”, blends spiritual love ad human passion, developing the ritual of an actual marriage without the human bridegroom.

Dickinson’s attitude to life and love forms important aspects of her poetry. Her attitude towards thee gripping aspects of life is very distinctive, and distinguishes he form other poets of the world.