Family Portrayals in "A Ballad Of Remembrance" - How Robert Hayden Dealt with His "Greatest Discouragement"

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GRIN Verlag, 2007 - 40 pages
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Seminar paper from the year 2006 in the subject American Studies - Literature, grade: 1,0, Ernst Moritz Arndt University of Greifswald, course: American Poetry, 16 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: Poets are artists and therefore very creative people. But their artistic faculty does not - in most cases - conjure out of nothing. Poets are influenced by many different things. Almost all lyricists name some other members of their art who directly or indirectly made an impact on their very own work - who they used as a kind of an idol or who even aroused their interest in poetry. Robert Hayden is no exception. He admits to be influenced by poets such as Keats, Byron, Carl Sandburg, Countee Cullen and more. Naturally poets are also influenced by their surroundings, namely nature, landscape, history and of course by people, especially by friends and family members. For Hayden, and probably almost all other poets, poems serve as a means of coming to terms with particular situations. Robert Hayden's upraising was not exactly typical; his parents separated soon after his birth and he was brought up by poor foster-parents. He states that the "greatest discouragement" were the circumstances he lived in: His family neither had money nor education; at the age of forty he had to find out that his foster-parents had never formally adopted him and the worst thing were the "conflicts, the quarrelling, the tensions that kept us most of the time on the edge of some shrill domestic calamity." (Both McCluskey 138) This term paper aims at illustrating how Robert Hayden - in his poems - coped with his family background and his position between the people who loved him and who struggled about being loved most in turn. To fully understand the emotions of Robert Hayden and his attitude towards his foster-parents and his mother I will - in the first chapter - provide a depiction of his youth and his relationship between him and his natural parents and foster pare
 

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Contents

Introduction
2
Poems and Portrayals
6
The question of identity
10
Bibliography
14
Copyright

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Page 12 - ... were anyway periods when we lived fairly well — worse than the poverty were the conflicts, the quarreling, the tensions that kept us most of the time on the edge of some shrill domestic calamity. This is what the line "the chronic angers of that house" in my poem "Those Winter Sundays" refers to. We had a terrible love-hate relationship with one another, and dreadful things happened I can never forget. They turned me in upon myself, although perhaps they wouldn't have affected me so deeply...
Page 3 - Kaleidoscopic in memory now, its sordidness all but forgotten. Restaurants, barbershops, pool halls, cabarets, blind pigs, gamblin' joints camouflaged as "Recreation Clubs." Shootings, stabbings, blaring jazz, and a liveliness, a gaiety at once desperate and releasing, at once wicked — Satan's playground — and good-hearted.
Page 6 - ... safety in the danger zones Tom Swift and Kubla Khan traversed. When my fourth decade came, I learned my name was not my name. I felt deserted, mocked. Why had the old ones lied? No matter. They were dead. And the name on the books was dead, like the life my mother fled, like the life I might have known. You don't exist — at least not legally, the lawyer said. As ghost, double, alter ego then?
Page 5 - ... chronic angers" of that household. Of those diverse permutations of "divide and antagonize," Hayden recalled mainly the conflicts between foster and natural mother for his affection, and the "ganging up" of the three women against the quietly enduring and often unappreciated father figure in an essentially matriarchal "mini-society".
Page 2 - ... point you speak of. For some reason, I don't know why, I seemed to have a need to recall my past and to rid myself of the pain of so much of it. Well, perhaps the real reason why I felt this way was that during the fifties people of my generation were aware that we had reached a midpoint, and we were all no doubt constrained to look back, to see how far we'd come, maybe to see ourselves in retrospect.
Page 10 - from the loss of the life she had known and from the constant tension over this son who was still not legally hers she took out in anger against the boy."(Hatcher, 8) Nevertheless the "recollection of the physical punishment [...] prompts also the author's recall of accompanying verbal abuse and emotional devastation.
Page 12 - That part I don't want to get into too much because it was painful; it really hurts me even to think of it. But they were often cruel to me b "I'd gained enough psychic or emotional distance to write [. . .] memory poems.

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