Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem by Maya Angelou

By Maya Angelou

During this appealing, deeply relocating poem, Maya Angelou conjures up us to include the peace and promise of Christmas, in order that wish and love can once more remove darkness from our vacation trips and the area. "Angels and Mortals, Believers and Nonbelievers, glance heavenward," she writes, "and converse the be aware aloud. Peace."

Read through the poet on the lights of the nationwide Christmas Tree on the White apartment on December 1, 2005, Maya Angelou's get together of the "Glad Season" is a radiant confirmation of the goodness of existence and a stunning vacation reward for individuals of all faiths.

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The reader is invited to ‘look deeper’ into the poem. Which is good. But what this deeper inspection might unearth is only a half-hearted allowance. ‘At any rate, the reader must not conclude in advance that the strategy of poets so different as Tennyson and Marvell are in complete opposition. They need not be. ’44 It may; but it need not. The second-rate nature of Victorian poetry had got itself embedded as a key bit of English Studies’ founding doctrine. Samuel Beckett’s cheerful mockery of the Victorian poetic heritage in his traducing of Tennyson’s ‘A Dream of Fair Women’ as Dream of Fair to Middling Women (eventually published in 1992) sums up a common feeling: Victorian poetry was at best middling.

I’ll give you more to cry for, you young dog, you! I’ll flog you – flog you – flog, flog, flog, flog you. 49 Swinburne knows all about how to do beat, or rhythm – knowledges so painfully acquired. Hexameters for instance – like the flogging ones just quoted. 50 Matthew Arnold famously had a go at hexameters in Englishing four passages of the Iliad in his Oxford lectures ‘On Translating Homer’ (1861). ’ Incensed, Tennyson responded with a ‘Specimen of a Translation of the Iliad in Blank Verse’ in the Cornhill Magazine (Dec 1863), doing a version of Iliad VII, 524–561, a passage Arnold had himself attempted, and adding a few feisty lines dismissing English providers of ‘lame’ and ‘barbarous’ hexameters (‘On Translations of 47 Swinburne, Poems and Ballads and Atalanta in Calydon, ed Kenneth Haynes (Penguin, Harmondsworth, 200), xv.

Auden’s suggestion just won’t hold, not even in the notorious case of foaming Swinburne. Historically, it’s a washout. Auden might have paused over the fact that the authors of the most verbally tight poetry in English, the poets whose verbal strengths nobody has ever disputed, Shakespeare and The Metaphysicals and so on, the great poetic subjects who fall off the tree straight into Empson’s analytic hand in the Seven Types, were all brought up translating the classics, and that their education didn’t have the alleged verbal impoverishing effect on them.

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