Songs of Ourselves: The Uses of Poetry in America

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Harvard University Press, Jun 30, 2009 - History - 486 pages
In a strikingly original and rich portrait of the uses of verse in America, Rubin shows how the sites and practices of reciting poetry influenced readers' lives and helped them to find meaning in a poet's words. By blurring the boundaries between "high" and "popular" poetry as well as between modern and traditional, it creates a fuller, more democratic way of studying our poetic language and ourselves.

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Contents

Seer and Sage
19
Amateur and Professional
25
Absence and Presence
34
Sophisticate and Innocent
53
Celebrity and Cipher
75
Alien and Intimate
92
Listen My Children Modes of Poetry Reading in American Schools
107
I Am an American Poetry and Civic Ideals
165
Grow Old Along with Me Poetry and Emotions among Family and Friends
242
Gods in His Heaven Religious Uses of Verse
287
Lovely as a Tree Reading and Seeing OutofDoors
336
Favorite Poems and Contemporary Readers
381
Notes
407
Index
451
Copyright

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Popular passages

Page 1 - Thou'rt gone, the abyss of heaven Hath swallowed up thy form ; yet on my heart Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou hast given, And shall not soon depart. He who from zone to zone Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight, In the long way that I must tread alone, Will lead my Steps aright.
Page 379 - ... lustre mellow Through all the long green fields has spread His first sweet evening yellow. Books! 'tis a dull and endless strife: Come, hear the woodland linnet, How sweet his music!
Page 26 - I was beginning to speak of the famous poets I knew when Garfield stopped me with "Just a minute!" He ran down into the grassy space, first to one fence and then to the other at the sides, and waved a wild arm of invitation to the neighbors who were also sitting on their back porches. "Come over here!" he shouted. "He's telling about Holmes, and Longfellow, and Lowell, and Whittier!
Page 115 - For, like strains of martial music, Their mighty thoughts suggest Life's endless toil and endeavor ; And to-night I long for rest. Read from some humbler poet. Whose songs gushed from his heart, As showers from the clouds of summer, Or tears from the eyelids start...
Page 407 - Janice Radway, Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1984).
Page 112 - Lives of great men all remind us We can make our lives sublime, And, departing, leave behind us Footprints on the sands of time; Let us, then, be up and doing, With a heart for any fate; Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait.
Page 118 - Then, again, a poet or a poem may count to us on grounds, personal to ourselves. Our personal affinities, likings, and circumstances have great power to sway our estimate of this or that poet's work, and to make us attach more importance to it as poetry than in itself it really possesses because to us it is, or has been of high importance.

About the author (2009)

Joan Shelley Rubin is Professor of History at the University of Rochester.

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