lunes, 28 de noviembre de 2011

Sample texts for the exam (2)

2. Choose 3 of these texts. Analyze them and identify the work they come from, the author who wrote them and the period where they appeared. Discuss the period or movement they come from and the significance of the passage within the work and within the general context of English Literature. (60 %)

I celebrate myself and sing myself

And what I assume you shall assume

For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul

I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil, this air,

Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same,

I, now, thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,

Hoping to cease not till death.

Creeds and schools in abeyance,

Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten

I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,

AUTHOR (briefly) Walt Whitman, an American poet from the 19th century who is considered the most important poet in American Literature. He only published a book of poems ("Leaves of Grass"), which he republished several times in his life.

WORK "Song of Myself", the beginning of "Leaves of Grass"

PERIOD (Features of the period, especially if they can be seen in the passage) (briefly) Romanticism: a literary movement that started in Germany and England at the beginning of the 19th century and arrived in the USA a few decades later. Its main features were: the importance given to imagination, emotion, individualism and passion, a celebration of nature, and an interest in the past and remote setting. In the USA, there were two movements within Romanticism: the American Romance (Hawthorne, Melville, Poe) and Transcendentalism (to which Whitman was associated)

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE POEM (FORM/CONTENT/REFERENCES) (longer) The poem is a song to the individual and to his freedom. The form chosen by Whitman is "free verse", a kind of poetry without formal restrictions of any kind: there are no fixed lines or stanzas, and no particular rhythm or rhyme. However, the vocabulary choice, the metaphors ("a spear of summer grass") and the repetitions ("this soil, this air", "from parents the same, and their parents the same") make this text unmistakably poetic.

This formal freedom fits perfectly the content of the poem: the poet's song to his own individuality that later leads him to a personal relationship with his readers ("for every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you"). One can also see the relationship of the poet with nature ("every atom of my blood formed from this soil") that connects Whitman with the pantheism typical of transcendentalism. Other features of Romanticism that can be seen in this passage are the importance of imagination, individualism, nature and passion.

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