Welcome from Amy D. Unsworth

Language, Literature, Learning & Life.

The Semester Dawns & Aesthetics

Linda Pastan

I'm getting excited! The new semester officially begins on Wednesday. I'm especially happy about my independent study in poetry. I'm reading Linda Pastan's work for the first time, excluding an anthology poem here and there. Plus Philip Levine, C. K. Williams, Ted Kooser, Stephen Dunn, and Jane Kenyon. Last semester, I only had three 20th century poets whose work I studied with any type of depth: Sylvia Plath, Seamus Heaney, and Philip Larkin.

A word about aesthetics: I'm grateful that everyone has different tastes in poetry. I always think about it in terms of home decoration. If everyone did their house in Victorian Finery or Mountain Cabin, how boring would that be? (Oh gee, I love your lace doily, I have one just like that on the top of my coffee table.) So keep writing & reading whatever it is that you like. It's great to know that there is such a variety of vibrant writing out there just waiting to be discovered.


SquirrleyMojo said...

Good luck w/Stephen Dunn--certainly an interesting poet. Just began Plath's _Ariel_ w/Frieda's intro. Hard to & not to graph one's own motherhood on to such a text, 'eh? Did you find it mostly autobiography??

Anonymous said...

Good luck with the new semester. You'll love Jane Kenyon. I got your site off Sharon's Watermark

Cathy http://quietpoet.blogs.com

Amy Unsworth said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Amy Unsworth said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Amy Unsworth said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Amy Unsworth said...

I already have a lot of respect for the quietness of Kenyon's writing. I think as of now this is my favorite of her poems:

Apple Dropping into Deep Early SnowA jay settled on a branch, making it sway.
The one shrivled fruit that remained
gave way to the deepening drift below.
I happened to see it the moment it fell.

Dusk is eager and comes early. A car
creeps over the hill. Still in the dark I try
to tell if I am numbered with the damned,
who cry, outraged, Lord when did we see You?--Jane Kenyon from Otherwise: New and Selected Poems

Amy Unsworth said...

Any hints on how to make the line breaks stay where they belong? In the preview window the poem looked fine & now not.

Amy Unsworth said...

(Sorry about all the deleted posts; they really need to allow editing of comments for when one makes some silly error.)

About _The Restored Ariel_: This is actually the text that I spent a lot of time with. I found that the order that Plath intended indicates a much more hopeful outlook than many critics have argued. Especially since the book ends with the bee keeper poems.

excerpt from my paper:

"The last few poems in the restored edition are the bee keeping poems. These final poems point to an arc of the book which would end with spring. What is important to see in these poems is that the speaker identifies with the queen bee that is cold and alone in the meadow. In the poem “Stings” we see perhaps the most telling line of the collection. The speaker states, “They thought death was worth it, but / I have a self to recover, a queen” (51-52). This queen lives and flies above the “mausoleum” created by the rival and the “wax house” of depression (60). The speaker in “The Arrival of The Bee Box” recognizes that the “box is only temporary” (36). The constraint and the pain are only temporary.

In the final poem of Plath’s manuscript, the speaker sees herself again as the queen bee. She speaks of the “Maids and the long royal lady. / They have got rid of the men” (39-40). And while the speaker and the queen bee are “in the cold and too dumb to think,” they are still “flying” and “They taste the spring” (45, 50). These lines would suggest that the speaker still hopes to recover from the depression and the heartache and still has the ability to look towards a life beyond the sorrow."

One can only guess, but the original order creates a manuscript much different in tone than the version that Ted Hughes released after her death. You'll note that "Edge" which is the second to last poem in the early version was not included in the orignial manuscript or the "Restored" version.