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MEG-18: American Poetry

MEG-18: American Poetry

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2023-24

If you are looking for MEG-18 IGNOU Solved Assignment solution for the subject American Poetry, you have come to the right place. MEG-18 solution on this page applies to 2023-24 session students studying in MEG, PGDAML courses of IGNOU.

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Assignment Code: MEG-18/TMA/2023-24

Course Code: MEG-18

Assignment Name: American Poetry

Year: 2023-2024

Verification Status: Verified by Professor

Q1) Enumerate on the Revolutionary War and Treaty of Paris and their impact on American poetry.

Ans) The American Revolutionary War and the Treaty of Paris were pivotal events in American history that had a profound impact on American poetry. These historical events, which unfolded in the late 18th century, ignited a spirit of nationalism, freedom, and individualism that found expression in the poetry of the era.

American Revolutionary War:

  1. Inspiration for Patriotism: The Revolutionary War, which lasted from 1775 to 1783, inspired a sense of patriotism and love for the newly formed United States. Poets like Philip Freneau and Francis Hopkinson penned verses that celebrated the American cause, rallying support for independence from British colonial rule.

  2. Battle Narratives: Many poets of the era authored poems that described the experiences of soldiers on the battlefield. These poems captured the struggles, sacrifices, and heroism of American troops. "The Battle of Bunker Hill" by Hugh Henry Brackenridge and "Concord Hymn" by Ralph Waldo Emerson are notable examples of this genre.

  3. Political Satire: Political satire became a popular form of poetry during this period. Poets used humour and wit to comment on the political and social issues of the time. Notably, Philip Freneau's satirical poems criticized British tyranny and mocked British officials, contributing to the revolutionary spirit.

  4. Expressions of Freedom: The Revolutionary War was, at its core, a fight for freedom and independence. Poets seized upon this theme, emphasizing the idea of liberty and individual rights. These sentiments are evident in works like "The Liberty Song" by John Dickinson and "The American Hero" by Philip Freneau.

Treaty of Paris (1783):

  1. Celebration of Victory: The Treaty of Paris marked the official end of the Revolutionary War and recognized the United States as an independent nation. American poets celebrated this victory and the newfound sovereignty in their verses. The treaty signing inspired odes, such as "Ode to Peace" by Phillis Wheatley, one of the first African American poets.

  2. National Identity: The Treaty of Paris solidified the United States as a distinct nation on the global stage. Poets began to explore what it meant to be American and articulated the evolving national identity. Poems like "To the United States of America" by Joel Barlow reflected the optimism and hope for the future of the nation.

  3. Reflection on Sacrifice: The war had taken a toll on American families and communities, and poets reflected on the sacrifices made during the conflict. Elegies and poems of remembrance, such as "Elegy on the Times" by Timothy Dwight IV, remembered those who had lost their lives in the struggle for independence.

  4. Influence on Form and Style: The themes of freedom, liberty, and national pride influenced the form and style of American poetry. Poets began to explore uniquely American themes and voices. This period laid the foundation for American Romanticism, characterized by an emphasis on emotion, nature, and individualism, which would flourish in the early 19th century.

The American Revolutionary War and the Treaty of Paris fundamentally shaped American poetry in several ways:

  1. Nationalistic Themes: The poetry of this era was infused with a keen sense of national pride and identity. It celebrated the ideals of liberty and democracy that had inspired the American Revolution.

  2. Political Engagement: American poets became politically engaged, using their verses to comment on the pressing political and social issues of the time. This tradition of politically charged poetry continued throughout American literary history.

  3. Influence on Literary Movements: The themes and ideas explored during this period laid the groundwork for subsequent literary movements in American poetry, such as Romanticism, Transcendentalism, and the Harlem Renaissance.

  4. Celebration of Individualism: The American Revolution fostered a spirit of individualism and self-reliance, which found expression in the poetry of the era. This emphasis on the individual would become a defining feature of American literature.

Q2. a) Write short notes on American Spirit.

Ans) The concept of the American spirit is a complex and multifaceted idea that has evolved over centuries and encompasses a wide range of values, beliefs, and cultural elements. It is deeply rooted in the history, literature, and collective identity of the United States.

Historical Development:

  1. Colonial Origins: The American spirit has its roots in the early days of European colonization in North America. Colonists, seeking religious freedom and economic opportunities, brought with them a sense of rugged individualism and determination.

  2. American Revolution: The American Revolution marked a pivotal moment in the development of the American spirit. The fight for independence from British rule forged an intense sense of national identity and a commitment to principles like freedom and self-determination.

  3. Frontier Mentality: The westward expansion of the United States in the 19th century contributed to the American spirit's frontier mentality. The idea of the frontier represented limitless possibilities, self-reliance, and the pursuit of a better life.

  4. Immigration and Diversity: The American spirit has been shaped by waves of immigration, with people from diverse backgrounds contributing their unique cultures, talents, and ideas to the nation's identity. This diversity has enriched the American spirit and made it inclusive.

Components of the American Spirit:

  1. Freedom: Freedom is a cornerstone of the American spirit. Americans have a deep reverence for individual freedoms and civil liberties, as evidenced by documents like the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

  2. Opportunity: The belief in opportunity and social mobility is central to the American spirit. The idea that anyone can achieve success through hard work and determination is a driving force in American culture.

  3. Innovation: Americans are known for their innovative spirit. From inventors like Thomas Edison to tech pioneers like Steve Jobs, innovation and entrepreneurship have been at the heart of American progress.

  4. Optimism: The American spirit often embodies a sense of optimism and hope for the future. This optimism has driven individuals and the nation to overcome challenges and pursue ambitious goals.

  5. Community and Diversity: While individualism is important, the American spirit also values community and diversity. The idea that a diverse group of people can come together to form a unified nation is a testament to this spirit.

  6. Resilience: The American spirit is marked by resilience in the face of adversity. This resilience has been evaluated in moments of crisis, such as the Great Depression, World Wars, and natural disasters.

Enduring Significance:

  1. Cultural Influence: The American spirit has had a profound influence on American literature, art, music, and popular culture. It is a recurring theme in literature from Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" to Langston Hughes' "I, Too, Sing America."

  2. Political Ideals: The American spirit is closely tied to the nation's political ideals. It has played a role in shaping American democracy, civil rights movements, and debates over issues like freedom of speech and individual rights.

  3. Global Inspiration: The American spirit has inspired people around the world who admire the values of freedom, democracy, and opportunity associated with the United States. It has served as a beacon of hope for those striving for similar ideals in their own countries.

  4. Resilience in Challenges: The American spirit has been evaluated repeatedly throughout history, including during times of economic hardship, social unrest, and external threats. The nation's ability to rebound and adapt is a testament to the enduring strength of this spirit.

  5. Ongoing Evolution: The American spirit continues to evolve and adapt to the changing cultural, social, and political landscape. It incorporates innovative ideas, challenges old norms, and remains a dynamic force in American society.

Q2. b) Write short notes on Puritan Spirit.

Ans) The Puritan spirit refers to the religious, moral, and cultural values of the Puritans, a group of English Protestants who sought to reform the Church of England during the 16th and 17th centuries. The Puritans played a significant role in the early colonization of North America, particularly in New England, where their beliefs and ideals left a legacy.

Origins of the Puritan Spirit:

  1. Reformation Background: The Puritans emerged within the context of the Protestant Reformation, a movement that sought to reform the Roman Catholic Church. They believed that the Church of England had retained too many Catholic rituals and practices and sought to "purify" it by removing what they viewed as remnants of Catholicism.

  2. Religious Intolerance: The Puritans faced persecution and religious intolerance in England due to their dissenting views. Many sought refuges in the Netherlands before eventually venturing to North America in search of religious freedom.

Components of the Puritan Spirit:

  1. Religious Piety: The Puritan spirit was deeply rooted in religious devotion. Puritans believed in the importance of individual piety and sought a personal relationship with God. They placed a strong emphasis on studying the Bible and living according to its teachings.

  2. Predestination: Central to Puritan theology was the concept of predestination, which held that God had predetermined the fate of every soul—either salvation or damnation. This belief influenced their strict moral code and the sense of urgency in leading a virtuous life.

  3. Work Ethic: Puritans believed that hard work and industriousness were expressions of godliness. They viewed success and material prosperity as signs of God's favour. This belief in the "Protestant work ethic" had a lasting impact on American culture.

  4. Community and Covenant: Puritan communities were tightly knit, with members bound by a religious covenant. They believed in mutual support, collective responsibility, and the moral oversight of their fellow believers.

  5. Education: The Puritans placed a high value on education, believing that an educated clergy and populace were essential for understanding and interpreting the Bible. This emphasis on education contributed to the establishment of schools and colleges in New England.

Influence of the Puritan Spirit:

  1. Colonial New England: The Puritan spirit played a significant role in the establishment of the New England colonies, including Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, and Connecticut. These colonies were characterized by religiously motivated communities, strict moral codes, and an intense sense of communal responsibility.

  2. Literature: Puritan writings, such as sermons and diaries, provided early American literature with some of its earliest works. Prominent figures like Jonathan Edwards, known for his fiery sermons, contributed to the literary tradition of the time.

  3. Legacy of Individualism: While the Puritan spirit emphasized communal values, it also laid the foundation for the American ideals of individualism and personal liberty. The belief in the individual's direct relationship with God contributed to the development of American individualism.

  4. Religious Pluralism: Over time, the influence of the Puritan spirit waned as the United States became more religiously diverse. However, the concept of religious freedom and the separation of church and state, which the Puritans championed in response to their own religious persecution, became fundamental principles in the American system of government.

  5. Social and Moral Values: Many enduring social and moral values in American society, such as the importance of hard work, thrift, and personal responsibility, have their roots in the Puritan ethic. These values continue to shape American culture and identity.

Q3) Philip Freneau’s poem, “The Wild Honey Suckle” is a political document engaging American national landscape – discuss.

Ans) Philip Freneau's poem, "The Wild Honey Suckle," is often interpreted as a reflection of the American national landscape, albeit in a metaphorical and allegorical sense. While the poem primarily is a romantic and pastoral composition, it can be read as a political document that engages with the American national landscape in several ways.

Allegorical Representation of America:

"The Wild Honey Suckle" uses the titular flower as an allegorical representation of America itself. The wild honeysuckle, like the nation, is portrayed as a beautiful and alluring entity, symbolizing the natural beauty and potential of the American landscape. Freneau's choice of the honeysuckle as a symbol is significant. The honeysuckle is a native North American plant, which aligns with the idea of the poem reflecting the American landscape.

The Struggle for Independence:

The poem's themes of fragility, fleeting beauty, and the passage of time can be interpreted as metaphors for the struggles and challenges faced by the American colonies in their quest for independence from British rule. The honeysuckle's vulnerability to the elements, such as the "frowning cloud" and "wintry storm," can symbolize the hardships endured by the American people during the Revolutionary War.

The Transient Nature of Liberty:

Freneau's poem suggests that, like the wild honeysuckle, the pursuit of liberty and independence is fleeting and fragile. The "mimic form" of the flower, which mimics the appearance of a honeysuckle vine, may symbolize the imitation of European systems of government and the desire to establish a unique American identity. This idea aligns with the broader sentiment of the time, where Americans sought to establish a government that would break away from European models and reflect the unique character of the new nation.

The Role of Nature in American Identity:

"The Wild Honey Suckle" reflects the Romantic era's fascination with nature and the belief that the natural world could serve as a source of inspiration and identity for a young nation. Freneau’s description of the wild honeysuckle's beauty and its connection to the American landscape underscores the idea that the nation's identity is intimately tied to its natural surroundings.

A Call to Preserve the American Landscape:

The poem can be seen as a call to preserve and protect the American landscape, symbolized by the wild honeysuckle. Freneau's portrayal of nature's beauty serves as a reminder of the importance of stewardship and environmental conservation. This concern for the environment and the American landscape can be viewed as a form of early environmentalism, emphasizing the need to maintain the nation's natural resources.

Celebration of American Resilience:

Despite the challenges and fleeting nature of the wild honeysuckle's beauty, the poem celebrates the flower's resilience and ability to thrive in adverse conditions. This can be seen as a reflection of the American spirit, which endured hardships and emerged stronger during the struggle for independence.

Q4) How does the choice of words in the poem “I Taste a Liquor Never Brewed” help to illustrate the idea of drunkenness?

Ans) The poem "I Taste a Liquor Never Brewed" by Emily Dickinson uses a rich and imaginative choice of words to vividly illustrate the idea of drunkenness. Despite the absence of explicit references to alcohol or intoxication, Dickinson's skilful use of language conveys the sensation of being in an altered state of mind, capturing the essence of a transcendent, almost spiritual, intoxication.

  1. Sensory Imagery: Dickinson employs a wealth of sensory imagery to evoke the experience of drunkenness. She describes the "purple Host" and "bobolink for a Bough" to create vivid visual imagery, emphasizing the heightened perception that often accompanies intoxication.

  2. Unusual Descriptions: The poem contains descriptions that are unusual and whimsical, such as "Debauchee of Dew" and "Inebriate of Air." These unconventional phrases convey the idea that the speaker is under the influence of an extraordinary and otherworldly substance.

  3. Nature Imagery: Dickinson frequently uses nature imagery to symbolize the effects of intoxication. The "purple Host" and "bobolink" represent the beauty and vibrancy of nature, suggesting that the speaker's experience is a harmonious communion with the natural world.

  4. Hyperbolic Language: The poem employs hyperbolic language, exaggerating the sensory experience. The speaker claims to have drunk "the liquor never brewed" and that her "smallest gulp" led to a state of "Inebriety."

  5. Paradoxical Expressions: Dickinson uses paradoxical expressions, such as "Debauchee of Dew" and "Zero at the Bone," to create a sense of contradiction and disorientation. These paradoxes contribute to the idea that the speaker's intoxication is a departure from ordinary reality.

  6. Personification: The poem personifies nature and the elements, suggesting that they have become active participants in the speaker's intoxicated state. The "orchard for a dome" and the "purple Host" imply a communion with the natural world.

  7. Rhythm and Rhyme: The poem's rhythmic and rhyming patterns contribute to the sense of intoxication. The regular rhyme scheme and meter create a musical and hypnotic quality, mimicking the rhythmic and disorienting effects of alcohol.

  8. Symbolism: The "nectar" mentioned in the poem serves as a symbol of the mysterious substance that has intoxicated the speaker. While it may be interpreted as a reference to nature or the beauty of the world, its symbolic nature adds to the overall sense of enchantment and drunkenness.

  9. Unconventional Capitalization: Dickinson's use of capitalization in words like "Liquor," "You," and "Zero" draws attention to these words, giving them a heightened significance. This unconventional capitalization reinforces the idea that the poem is describing an extraordinary and transformative experience.

  10. Surreal and Dreamlike Language: The poem's language is surreal and dreamlike, blurring the lines between reality and imagination. This dreamlike quality is characteristic of the altered state of mind associated with intoxication.

Q5) Critically appreciate Robert Lowell’s poem, “For the Union Dead”.

Ans) Robert Lowell's poem "For the Union Dead" is a powerful and complex work that explores themes of history, memory, social change, and the passage of time. Written during a tumultuous period in American history, the poem reflects Lowell's concerns about the state of the nation and his own personal struggles.

  1. Title Significance: The title, "For the Union Dead," immediately sets the historical and political context of the poem. It references the American Civil War and the sacrifices made by Union soldiers in the fight against slavery and secession. This title suggests a dedication to preserving the memory of those who fought for a just cause.

  2. Imagery and Symbolism: Lowell's use of vivid and evocative imagery is a standout feature of the poem. He contrasts the historical significance of the Civil War monument with the modern urban landscape. The image of "the drained faces of Negro schoolchildren" juxtaposed with Colonel Shaw on his horse underscores the ongoing struggle for civil rights and the discrepancy between past ideals and present realities.

  3. Historical Allusions: The poem is rich with historical allusions, drawing connections between the Civil War era and the contemporary world of the 1960s. References to the "archaic" South Boston Aquarium, "conquered and in ruins," evoke the passage of time and the decline of noble ideals.

  4. Tone and Irony: The poem's tone is contemplative and, at times, ironic. Lowell reflects on the changing landscape and society, expressing a sense of disillusionment. The ironic statement "the Aquarium is gone" highlights the loss of innocence and idealism, as the "happy children" are replaced by urban decay.

  5. Structure and Form: "For the Union Dead" is written in free verse with varying line lengths and a loose structure. This form allows Lowell to explore different ideas and themes without rigid constraints. It mirrors the shifting perspectives and emotions in the poem.

  6. Personal and Political Themes: The poem also contains personal elements as Lowell reflects on his own struggles with mental illness and the disconnection between his own experiences and the historical events he contemplates. This interplay between personal and political themes adds depth to the poem.

  7. The Role of Memory: Memory plays a significant role in the poem. The speaker reflects on the importance of remembering historical events and figures, as well as personal memories. The image of Colonel Shaw "staring into the curves of his carved, aquatic bull" symbolizes the frozen, timeless nature of memory.

  8. Social Commentary: Lowell uses the poem to comment on the state of American society in the 1960s, particularly the civil rights movement and urban decay. He critiques the superficiality and materialism of contemporary culture, contrasting it with the nobility and sacrifice of the Civil War era.

  9. Ambiguity and Complexity: "For the Union Dead" is a complex and layered poem that invites multiple interpretations. It contains ambiguity, allowing readers to engage with its themes on various levels. The poem raises questions about the nature of progress, the role of memory, and the legacy of historical events.

  10. Timelessness: Despite being rooted in a specific historical and social context, the poem's themes of memory, sacrifice, and the passage of time are timeless and continue to resonate with readers today. Lowell's exploration of the tension between history and contemporary life remains relevant.

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