LITERATURA USA 11.04.2011
There are writers whose work can be placed in the context of later developments.
Some of their themes and styles are generally regarded as bringing the gap between the reflexive poetry of Transcendentalism and Whitman, and modern poetry.
Poetry in transition
E.L. Masters - Spoon River Anthology
E.A. Robinson - The Children of the Night, Tristam, The Man who Died Twice
R. Frost - A Boy's Will, North of Boston, Mountain Interval
R. Jeffers - Californians, Tamar and Other poems
C. Sandburg - Chicago Poems, American Songbag
V. Lindsay - The Congo and Other Poems
Women: S. Teasdale, E. Wylie, E. St. Vincent Millay EDGAR LEE MASTERS (1868 - 1950)
He was born in Texas and reared in southern Illinois.
He attended Knox Collage, studied law and became attorney.
He gave up law practice and devoted himself entirely to literature.
He moved to New York, for 20 years he occupied a suite at the famed Hotel Chelsea, heaven of many writers of the 20's and 30's.
He is buried in Petersburg, next to his beloved grandparents Squire Davie Masters and Lucinda Masters.
The epitaph of Master's tomb
“Tomorrow is My Birthday”
“Spoon River Anthology” (1915)
It was literary sensation.
It was written in the form of epitaphs - poignant summaries of the lives of persons supposedly buried in the country cemetery (nearly 250 characters). The poems are in free verse, the lines conveying a unit of thought (conversational speech, more shaped then common speech).
Most of the speakers reveal brief and bitter tales of twisted and wasted lives.
But some, like Lucinda Matlock, speak with courage, conviction, optimism.
Speakers of Spoon River
The speakers are inhabitants (both real are imagined) of Spoon River, an area near Lewinstown and Petersburg, Illinois, where Masters spent his childhood.
Some characters under disguise names, lately dead or still living in the region, scandalous behavior of some of them (judges, bankers, doctor, editors, churchmen, artists, night watch, atheist, hat maker, gambler, a Negro, Anne Rutledge, first love of A. Lincoln, etc.).
All are dead, “sleeping on the hill”. They died accidentally, violent or unnoticed death.
The discover and confess the real motives of their lives, the secret steps that stumbled them to failure or raised them to illusionary triumphs.
They talk about meaningless marriages, accidents and disease, economic exportation, incapability, damaged lives.
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