Thursday, March 10, 2011

America: The Poem

In Nature and The Poet, Emerson fixates on the concepts of clear vision (his idea that the poet can clearly see, understand, and articulate nature into a "stroke of genius") and "perpetual youth." Through this, he claims that America is a poem itself. In class we discussed that America represents perpetual youth because at the time Emerson was alive, America was a very new nation with an unexplored frontier. Along with Bryant's idea of nature ("Man hath no part in all this glorious work"), both of these writers felt that America alone was a poem and needed no translation from man. But today, almost 200 years later, there is very little nature left to be explored and observed. There seems to be poetry about human plight and urbanization, and the phase of Romanticism and appreciating the beauty of nature in great detail has been filed away on the bookshelves in our anthologies. Also, there are so many people today who label themselves poets, and who think each line they post on the internet is the work of a genius. What do you think Emerson would say about poets today? Do poets still posses clear vision? And is America still a poem, or has its "perpetual youth" run out?

Looking at the cover of our handy dandy Norton Anthology Volume B, the painting of the Hudson River Valley is the perfect example of Emerson's nature:


  1. I joked a few weeks ago, in the context of our discussions about self-publishing and the printing industry, that the Internet is the final frontier, a place where we can go to carve out our own plots of cyberspace. I mean, no one really uses this site anymore, which would really make it all the more open an untamed, right? After all, the title suggests private property of sorts, doesn't it?

    So here we are a few weeks after my joke. Was I actually joking, or was I serious? Can we see clearly to an answer to that question?

  2. I think that poetry is at a standstill right now. Im not into poetry but I would think that if another great poet came out then people would talk about them more. Posting that one the net and claiming fame is a joke. The internet may be limitless but it takes more then some internet posting that anyone can create to get the next generation of great poets to come forth.

    Like how most good writings tend to come with changes in the world, i think that the internet WAS the final frontier and its time for the next one. The human race needs the next step like space exploration, and going to different planets, galaxies, universes and different dimensions. These example final frontiers are the changes we need I think to see the next great poets and/or any other authors and writings to come out.

  3. I guess the main difference now than Emerson's time is the obvious one: the term "poet" has so many different avenues. A rap artist, for example, is a poet, or an a piece of artwork can be poetic. Although we have expanded the definition of a poet, I think we still refer back to the classic poems for inspiration. They will always be there, where as a popular song will disappear over a few weeks. I don't know about everyone else, but I definitely don't take a lot of "poets" on the internet very seriously. There is a higher quality of writing in the old stuff, which is why it stands the test of time. Although we may take on new frontiers, we will always have the classic poets to look back on.

    What do you think Emerson would say about poets today? Do poets still posses clear vision? And is America still a poem, or has its "perpetual youth" run out?

  4. oops i didnt mean to post that question again haha

  5. I know that I'm kind of late on the wagon here for this post, but I still wanted to comment on it. I feel like poetry is dying nowadays. I personally don't enjoy poetry very much, and I think a large part of that is because I haven't read very much of it. We were rarely assigned poetry in high school, and I'm thankful that I'm seeing it pop up more in college syllabuses (sp?). I find it difficult to grasp the meaning of poetry, and oftentimes I wonder if I'm completely off in my interpretations. I prefer reading that is more straightforward and to the point.

    I think that there are several reasons why poetry has become of less importance, at least to me and to the younger generations. Who wants to read poetry about the pollution and grit of cities, or of settlement in suburbs? A great deal of America's initial beauty and the idea of the "farmer" has been taken over by industrialization and exploited by land use. Emerson would probably think that land exploitation and our selfishness has hindered poets' ability to possess clear vision (how can they possibly see clearly over all that pollution and dirt?), and he would also most likely think that many of the poets today lack the emotion, lyricism and metaphor of Romantic poetry. However, I consider rap and other such lyrics poetry...just different poetry because they are filled with (rawer) emotions. Further, I don't think America's "perpetual youth" has run out, especially since, no matter what, America is going to be a new country relative to many of the other countries of our world.