Essay on The Poetry of Robert Hayden - 1657 Words | …
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Just one year after being promoted to full professor at Fisk, Hayden resigned to assume an affiliation with the University of Michigan, where he taught from 1969 until his death in 1980.
As a symbolist poet using historical fact to make the synaptic leap into the consciousness behind events, Hayden explored America's identity with a probing searchlight.
Essay on The Poetry of Robert Hayden
It embraces African-American history and folklore in a quest to reaffirm the Negro struggle as a part of the long human struggle toward freedom.
Hayden's first publication by a commercial press, (1966), marked the beginning of his real career as a poet.
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For such a vision we must turn instead to Hayden's "Elegies forParadise Valley." In these eight poems from American Journal a lostcommunity is summoned--the centerpiece of the sequence ironically suggests a seance--bywhat is less an act of redemption than "a gazing upon the Medusa" (CollectedProse 21).
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The "coonskin drum and jubilee banjo" of Hayden's"Daedalus," the "livid trees / where Ibo warriors / hung shadowless,turning in wind / that moaned like Africa" in "Nat Turner," the"darkness thicketed with shapes of terror" in "Runagate Runagate," allfulfill Benet's prophecy, not only in their content, but through their "husky, goldenvoice / Crying dark heaven through the spirituals" (Collected Poems 55, 56,59).
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"The Dream"-- second poem in Hayden's subsequent volume, Words in the MourningTime--occupies a more isolated position, occurring between two poems whose concern withhistory isn't immediately obvious, "Sphinx" and "'Mystery Boy' Looks forKin in Nashville"(5) History, we might infer, has become more mysterious for Hayden,its contemplation providing less a corrective than a riddle.