Главная > Реферат >Остальные работы
Stephen Vincent Ben?t, Editor
Excerpt from the Foreword to For My People
directness, reality are good things to find in a young poet. It is rarer to find them combined with a
controlled intensity of emotion and a language that, at times, even when it is most
modern, has something of the surge of biblical poetry.
And it is obvious that Miss Walker uses that language because it comes
naturally to her and is part of her inheritance. A
contemporary writer, living in a contemporary world, when she speaks of and for her people
older voices are mixed with hers–the voices of Methodist forebears and preachers who
preached the Word, the anonymous voices of many who lived and were forgotten and yet out
of bondage and hope made a lasting music. Miss
Walker is not merely a sounding-board for these voices–I do not mean that. Nor do I mean that this is interesting and moving
poetry because it was written by a Negro. It
is too late in the day for that sort of meaningless patronage–and poetry must exist in
its own right. These poems keep on talking to
you after the book is shut because, out of deep feeling, Miss Walker has made living and
Have Been Believers," "Delta," "Southern Song," "For My
People"–they are full of the rain and the sun that fall upon the faces and shoulders
of her people, full of the bitter questioning and the answers not yet found, the pride and the disillusion and
the reality. It is difficult for me to read
these poems unmoved–I think it will be difficult for others. Yet it is not only the larger problems of her
"playmates in the clay and dust" that interest Margaret Walker–she is
interested in people wherever they are. In
the second section of her book you will find ballads and portraits–figures of legend,
like John Henry and Stagolee and the uncanny Molly Means–figures of realism like Poppa
Chicken and Teacher and Gus, the Lineman, who couldn’t die–figures of "old Man
River, round New Orleans, with her gumbo, rice, and good red beans." They are set for voice and the blues, they could
be sung as easily as spoken. And, first and
last, they are a part of our earth.
can write formal verse as well; she can write her own kind of sonnet. But, in whatever medium she is working, the note
is true and unforced. There is a deep
sincerity in all these poems–a sincerity at times disquieting. For this is what one American has found and
seen–this is the song of her people, of her part of America. You cannot deny its honesty, you cannot deny its
candor. And this is not far away or long
ago–this is part of our nation, speaking.
Stephen Vincent Ben?t, foreword, For My People, by Margaret Walker, Yale Series of
Younger Poets. 41. ed. Stephen Vincent Ben?t
(New Haven: Yale UP, 1942) 5-6.
Excerpt from "The Atlantic Bookshelf"
is often argued that the critic’s business is to judge poetry entirely as poetry; but
poetry cannot exist apart from its subject matter, and most of the subject matter of this
volume has a specific interest. It evokes
immediately in the reader the whole social and human situation in America between the
colored and the white peoples.
speaks in a variety of verse forms. The poem
which gives its name to the volume uses a chanting rhythm, Biblical in pattern but
entirely modern in vocabulary; there is a section of rhyming ballads, creating character
sketches of figures of legend or reality; and there are original experiments in the sonnet
form. All have a peculiar genuineness of tone
quality–the quality of the speaking voice, not of literary artifice.
Elizabeth Drew, "The Atlantic Bookshelf," rev. of For My People, by
Margaret Walker, Atlantic Monthly, Dec. 1942: 166.
Excerpts from "Songs for a Journey"
reviews Edna St. Vincent Millay's The Murder of Lidice, Margaret Walker's For My
People, Franklin P. Adams' Innocent Merriment, and Alfred Noyes' The Edge of
ballad, ode and elegy and hymn–we stand in need of such communal poetry, of songs that
will release our emotions and voice our hope for the union of peoples, after war. We do not mean battle-songs or paeans of victory,
but the poems that become our common prayer. The
poetry we seek–and know not where to find–is that of the true maker who can, by the power of his feeling and the
glory of his word, sum up the national ethos,
and the national suffering, and bestow upon the heroic event a universal and timeless
meaning. The communal poets of the Bible
created a people and a faith. Whittier and
Walt Whitman and Lincoln, the poet, spoke a vision for America. Today, the occasions for poetry are supreme and
worldwide, not in the deeds, but in the spirit of men: in the men of Dunkirk and the
people of Russia, in all the Expendables, in the tragedy of refugee and guerilla. Is not the dream of the four freedoms worth
celebration? Do not the very words, United
Nations, challenge an ode of a poet of the inter-nation, from China, or India?
not do–even though Mr. Churchill, not as war-leader, but as voice of the British people
in peril, spoke with magnificent eloquence, and Vice-President Wallace proclaimed the
noble creed within many hearts. The
journalist has recorded better than ever before the courage and sacrifice of plain men,
but his words fade with the day. The
advertiser, publicity man, and propagandist, rouse our emotions, but for small or
ephemeral ends. We distrust them, and the
politician, even when they speak truth.
now discipline themselves to endure in silence, with the stoic courage that is ever their
glory. Men go to war, into silence, and
silence fills their homes. What man or woman
can say what each suffers? The poet can, and
can offer catharsis for the emotions that endanger the spirit. We need the comfort of sharing in communal hymns
that may soften loss and endow senseless death with meaning. The poet can restore our faith and vision. Poets are the final creators of morale.
. . .
of Margaret Walker of Alabama are communal singing, distilled from the long suffering of
her race, that holds in memory the bitter past–and questions today. This is American poetry for Americans, and beyond,
for all races that suffer in bonds, the disinherited of the earth who seek now their
heritage. What modern lines hold deeper
meaning than these?
The struggle staggers us
for bread, for pride, for simple dignity.
And this is more than fighting to exist;
more than revolt and war and human odds.
There is a journey from the me to you.
There is the a journey from the you to me.
A union of the two strange worlds must be.
is universal poetry–Asia and Africa echo this plea.
What a proof of the miraculous power of impassioned language! What a mystery of Providence that this young girl
can speak for millions! Because she does not
speak for herself.
wisdom has deep roots, deeper in southern life than the roots of its people, she declares,
because of her communion through blood and bone with sun and earth. From the Delta the blood-line runs back "to
the tropical lands of my birth that, on return to Mobile, may reconcile the pride and pain
in me." With this emotion she composed
the title poem, "For My People," an epitome of Negro sufferings and weakness,
both a history, and an indictment. Again she
speaks for many Peoples: "trying to fashion a world that will hold all people, all
the faces, all the adams and eves and their countless generations."
verse form is compressed, yet free. This poet
returns to the Bible. "The controlled
intensity of emotion and the language have something of the surge of biblical
poetry," says Stephen Vincent Ben?t, in his fine introduction to this volume in the
Yale Series of Younger Poets. The spirituals,
too, have lessoned her tongue, and the personal ballad and work song to which she gives a
sardonic moral twist in the odd characters of Molly Means or Bad-Man Stagolee. She has confronted life in streets and fields, and
by her genius enlarges experience into universal symbols that arouse emotion. Such poems can help save the future from the past.
Leon Whipple, "Songs for a Journey," rev. of For My People, by Margaret
Walker, Survey Graphic, Dec. 1942: 599.
Excerpts from "Let My People Grow!"
Margaret Walker, the young colored woman whose poems are the latest to be
included in the series [Yale Series of Younger Poets], comes forth, however, with the
anachronous assumption that poets are entitled to be heard on the problems of living in a
real, hard-time world of depression and war. She speaks for a minority group, the one to
which she belongs, to the majority; and it would be interesting, if one had the leisure
and inclination, to compare her findings–arrived at intuitively–with those of the
Miss Walker, for example, looks forward to the evolution of "The Great
Society" in a "world that will hold all the people, all the faces, all the Adams
and Eves and their countless generations." She sees her people rebelling against
hypocrisy–meaning, presumably, against the dissimulation by which the bitter, offended
black man is often forced to live in some sections. She marks a struggle between pride and
pain, the near-hopeless task of trying to maintain dignity under indignities. And she pins
the blame for all the distress on the "money-hungry, glory-craving leeches."
Simply put, her complaint is that her people are deceived and cheated.
The Negro’s progress, so called, his quick achievement, his contribution to music, and
all of that, leave Miss Walker quite cold.
[. . . .]
Yet there is anything but despair in "For My People":
Now the needy no longer weep
and pray; the long-suffering arise,
and our fists bleed against the bars
with a strange insistency.
[. . . .]
The ballads and sonnets of the second and third sections of this book are interesting
for other reasons. They show that preoccupation with the greater problems of her
"playmates in the clay and dust" have in no wise detracted from Margaret
Walker’s understanding of their folk ways. She has a genuine sympathy for low-down folks
like "Molly Means," "Poppa Chicken," and "Kissie Lee."
From Arna Bontemps, "Let My People Grow!," rev. of For My People, by
Margaret Walker, The New York Herald Tribune Books 3 Jan. 1943: 3.
Excerpt from "Cream of the Verse"
my People was one of eleven books reviewed by Louis Untermeyer in the following
Walker’s "For My People" has a double distinction: it is this year’s selection
in the Yale Series of Younger Poets, and it is the first volume by a Negro to win the
competitive honor. The title is not only apt
but more than ordinarily expressive. These
are poems which reflect the individual and a race, poems in which the body and spirit of a
great group of people are revealed with vigor and undeviating integrity. The book is by no means flawless. The sonnets in the third section are loosely
rhetorical and, for the most part, commonplace. The
dialect verses which compose the second section are faltering imitations of gutter blues,
swaggering ballads, and hearty folk-stuff; they read like nothing so much as Langston
Hughes turned soft or Paul Laurence Dunbar turned sour.
first section of Miss Walker’s first book is verse of quite another genre. It is emotional but seldom hysterical,
disillusioned but not easily despondent; it is sharply contemporary and grimly
unflinching. Its occasional crudities, its
over-ready reliance on clich?s are more than balanced by the firm candor and the
intensity–an intensity so racially deep and so personally affecting that it must move any
but a determinedly careless, or callous, reader.
Louis Untermeyer, "Cream of the Verse," rev. of For My People, by
Margaret Walker, The Yale Review 32 (1943): 370-71.
Excerpts from "The Poetry of Margaret Walker"
and directly, she [Walker] speaks for the Negro, North and South, . . .
is her acceptance of difference, and her ability to put it in its proper place, without
posing, without forcing a role of Negro poet in distinction to any other kind of poet
which gives her freshness of content, and the promise of becoming an important voice in
American poetry. This first section shows
rather well that she has comprehended and accepted her role as artist and artisan, and met
the challenge of her specific situation in an adequate fashion.
second section of the book, composed of ballads, is less fortunate. The ballads are, as academic artifacts, rather
- Critical Essays By Amy Lowell Essay, Research Paper WHY WE ... plenty of books for everybody, Many people enjoy Kipling’s poems ... utterly without sympathy for Blake. The people who like Tennyson ... For the last two years of my school course, I attended lectures on ...
- ... Huckleberry Finn Essay, Research Paper Critical Analysis of Huckleberry Finn ... “Don’t you thank me, don’t you give me no credit; it all ... after a fun-filled day on the river. He explains that ... book and a great book for older people to fashion their lives after ...
- ... New World Essay, Research Paper Criticism on Brave New World by ... . The book quickly caught my attention when it described how ... circumstances in which these people take part. For example, the cinema ... teaching. This book made me question reality. The whole ...
- My Utopia Essay, Research Paper Secluded in the middle ... along together. Living on the island is people from all different ... this community. Each one does not criticize the others for their beliefs. ... if a large number of people on the island disagreed with them ...
- ... Essay, Research Paper Robert Lowell (1964) [Lowell’s review was important for ... devotee of acid. And so on. For my own part, I have no ... most people are depressing, but Henry’s are more so. For ... , "Breaking through the New Criticism," Chapter 16 in A History ...