The great Arab singer Asmahan was the toast of Cairo song and cinema in the late 1930s and early 1940s, as World War II approached. She remained a figure of glamour and intrigue throughout her life and lives on today in legend as one of the shaping forces in the development of Egyptian popular culture. In this biography, author Sherifa Zuhur does a thorough study of the music and film of Asmahan and her historical setting. A Druze princess actually named Amal al-Atrash, Asmahan came from an important clan in the mountains of Syria but broke free from her traditional family background, left her husband, and became a public performer, a role frowned upon for women of the time. This unique biography of the controversial Asmahan focuses on her public as well as her private life. She was a much sought-after guest in the homes of Egypt's rich and famous, but she was also rumored to be an agent for the Allied forces during World War II. Through the story of Asmahan, the reader glimpses not only aspects of the cultural and political history of Egypt and Syria between the two world wars, but also the change in attitude in the Arab world toward women as public performers on stage. Life in wartime Cairo comes alive in this illustrated account of one of the great singers of the Arab world, a woman who played an important role in history. Sherifa Zuhur is Visiting Research Scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies atthe University of California, Berkeley.
In this original contribution to Elizabeth Bishop studies, Marilyn May Lombardi uses previously unpublished materials (letters, diaries, notebooks, and unfinished poems) to shed new light on the poet’s published work. She explores the ways Bishop’s lesbianism, alcoholism, allergic illnesses, and fear of mental instability affected her poetry—the ways she translated her bodily experiences into poetic form.
A cornerstone of The Body and the Song is the poet’s thirty-year correspondence with her physician, Dr. Anny Baumann, who was both friend and surrogate mother to Bishop. The letters reveal Bishop’s struggles to understand the relation between her physical and creative drives. "Dr. Anny" also helped Bishop unravel the connections in her life between psychosomatic illness and early maternal deprivation—her mother was declared incurably insane and institutionalized in 1916, when Bishop was five years old. Effectively an orphan, she spent the rest of her childhood with relatives.
In addition to these letters, Lombardi uses Bishop’s unpublished notebooks to demonstrate the poet’s resolve to "face the facts"—to confront her own emotional, intellectual, and physical frailties—and translate them into poetry that is clear-eyed and economical in its form.
Lombardi argues that in her subtle way, Bishop explores the same issues that preoccupy the current generation of women writers. A deeply private artist, Bishop never directly refers to her homosexuality in her published work, but the metaphors she draws from her carnal desires and aversions confront stifling cultural prescriptions for personal and erotic expression. In choosing restraint over confession, Bishop parted company with her friend Robert Lowell, but Lombardi shows that her reticence becomes a powerful artistic strategy resulting in poetry remarkable for its hermeneutic potential.
Informed by recent gender criticism, Lombardi’s lucid argument advances our understanding of the ways the material circumstances of life can be transformed into art.
Explore metaphors in the exquisite and enigmatic poetry of Song of Songs
One of the chief difficulties in interpreting the Song's lyrics is the unusual imagery used to depict the lovers' bodies. Why is the maiden's hair compared to a flock of goats (4:1), the man’s cheeks likened to garden beds of spice (5:13), and the eyes of both lovers described as doves (4:1; 5:12)? While scholars speculate on the significance of these images, a systematic inquiry into the Song's body metaphors is curiously absent. Based on insights from cognitive linguistics, this study incorporates biblical and comparative data to uncover the meaning of these metaphors surveying literature in the eastern Mediterranean (and beyond) that shares a similar form (poetry) and theme (love). Gault presents an interpretation of the Song's body imagery that sheds light on the perception of beauty in Israel and its relationship to surrounding cultures.
Exploration of the Song's use of universal themes and culturally specific variations
Discussion of the Song's literary structure and unity
Broadway Rhythm is a guide to Manhattan like nothing you've ever read. Author Dominic Symonds calls it a performance cartography, and argues that the city of New York maps its iconicity in the music of the Broadway songbook. A series of walking tours takes the reader through the landscape of Manhattan, clambering over rooftops, riding the subway, and flying over skyscrapers. Symonds argues that Broadway's songs can themselves be used as maps to better understand the city though identifiable patterns in the visual graphics of the score, the auditory experience of the music, and the embodied articulation of performance, recognizing in all of these patterns, corollaries inscribed in the terrain, geography, and architecture of the city.
Through musicological analyses of works by Gershwin, Bernstein, Copland, Sondheim and others, the author proposes that performance cartography is a versatile methodology for urban theory, and establishes a methodological approach that uses the idea of the map in three ways: as an impetus, a metaphor, and a tool for exploring the city.
The first comprehensive study of the Song of Songs' use of military metaphors
Although love transcends historical and cultural boundaries, its conceptualizations, linguistic expressions, and literary representations vary from culture to culture. In this study, Danilo Verde examines love through the military imagery found throughout the Song’s eight chapters. Verde approaches the military metaphors, similes, and scenes of the Song using cognitive metaphor theory to explore the overlooked representation of love as war. Additionally, this book investigates how the Song conceptualizes both the male and the female characters, showing that the concepts of masculinity and femininity are tightly interconnected in the poem. Conquered Conquerors provides fresh insights into the Song's figurative language and the conceptualization of gender in biblical literature.
Franz Schubert's song cycles Schone Mullerin and Winterreise are cornerstones of the genre. But as Richard Kramer argues in this book, Schubert envisioned many other songs as components of cyclical arrangements that were never published as such. By carefully studying Schubert's original manuscripts, Kramer recovers some of these "distant cycles" and accounts for idiosyncrasies in the songs which other analyses have failed to explain.
Returning the songs to their original keys, Kramer reveals linkages among songs which were often obscured as Schubert readied his compositions for publication. His analysis thus conveys even familiar songs in fresh contexts that will affect performance, interpretation, and criticism. After addressing problems of multiple settings and revisions, Kramer presents a series of briefs for the reconfiguring of sets of songs to poems by Goethe, Rellstab, and Heine. He deconstructs Winterreise, using its convoluted origins to illuminate its textual contradictions. Finally, Kramer scrutinizes settings from the Abendrote cycle (on poems by Friedrich Schlegel) for signs of cyclic process. Probing the farthest reaches of Schubert's engagement with the poetics of lieder, Distant Cycles exposes tensions between Schubert the composer and Schubert the merchant-entrepreneur.
Popular media can spark the national consciousness in a way that captures people’s attention, interests them in history, and inspires them to visit battlefields, museums, and historic sites. This lively collection of essays and feature stories celebrates the novels, popular histories, magazines, movies, television shows, photography, and songs that have enticed Americans to learn more about our most dramatic historical era.
From Ulysses S. Grant’s Memoirs to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, from Roots to Ken Burns’s The Civil War, from “Dixie” to “Ashokan Farewell,” and from Civil War photography to the Gettysburg Cyclorama, trendy and well-loved depictions of the Civil War are the subjects of twenty contributors who tell how they and the general public have been influenced by them. Sarah Kay Bierle examines the eternal appeal of Gone with the Wind and asks how it is that a protagonist who so opposed the war has become such a figurehead for it. H. R. Gordon talks with New York Times–bestselling novelist Jeff Shaara to discuss the power of storytelling. Paul Ashdown explores ColdMountain’s value as a portrait of the war as national upheaval, and Kevin Pawlak traces a shift in cinema’s depiction of slavery epitomized by 12 Years a Slave. Tony Horwitz revisits his iconic Confederates in the Attic twenty years later.
The contributors’ fresh analysis articulates a shared passion for history’s representation in the popular media. The variety of voices and topics in this collection coalesces into a fascinating discussion of some of the most popular texts in the genres. In keeping with the innovative nature of this series, web-exclusive material extends the conversation beyond the book.
I The Song
Jill M Soens University of Utah Press, 1999 Library of Congress PM197.E3I2 1999 | Dewey Decimal 897
I, the Song is an introduction to the rich and complex classical North American poetry that grew out of and reflects Indian life before the European invasion. No generalization can hold true for all the classical poems of North American Indians. They spring from thirty thousand years of experience, five hundred languages and dialects, and ten linguistic groups and general cultures. But the poems from these different cultures and languages belong to poetry unified by similar experiences and shared continent.
Built on early transcriptions of Native American “songs” and arranged by subject, these poems are informed by additional context that enables readers to appreciate more fully their imagery, their cultural basis, and the moment that produced them. They let us look at our continent through the eyes of a wide range of people: poets, hunters, farmers, holy men and women, and children. This poetry achieved its vividness, clarity, and intense emotional powers partly because the singers made their poems for active use as well as beauty, and also because they made them for singing or chanting rather than isolated reading.
Most striking, classical North American Indian poetry brings us flashes of timeless vision and absolute perception: a gull’s wing red over the dawn; snow-capped peaks in the moonlight; a death song. Flowing beneath them is a powerful current: the urge to achieve a selfless attention to the universe and a determination to see and delight in the universe on its own terms.
Once asked to name the ten best female singers, the renowned musical producer Billy Rose replied, “There is Jane Froman and nine others.” A legend in her time, Jane Froman (1907–1980) was one of Missouri’s greatest success stories. Her singing career, which spanned over three decades, included radio and television, recordings, nightclub performances, Broadway shows, and Hollywood movies.
Born in University City, Froman spent her childhood in the small town of Clinton and her adolescence in Columbia. After earning her associate degree from Christian (now Columbia) College, she auditioned as a vocalist for WLW, a Cincinnati radio station, and in 1934 was voted the top “girl singer” of the day in a poll of listeners.
At the height of her career, during World War II, Froman volunteered to travel for the USO. On February 22, 1943, her plane crashed into the Tagus River near Lisbon, Portugal. Although she suffered horrible injuries that plagued her for the rest of her life, she continued her singing career. On crutches, she entertained the troops, giving ninety-five shows throughout Europe. Her courageous return was the focus of the 1952 movie With a Song in My Heart,starring Susan Hayward. For scenes that required singing performances, Froman sang the songs through dubbing, and the movie soundtrack became a best-selling record album. Froman’s popularity led to her own television show from 1952 to 1955. In 1961, Froman retired from singing and returned to Columbia, Missouri, where she was active in volunteer work and lived out her remaining years.
Drawing upon an autobiography that Froman started but never finished, Ilene Stone skillfully uses the singer’s own words, along with other resource materials and extensive interviews with people who knew Froman, to produce the first biography of this extraordinary woman. Written in a clear and accessible style, Jane Froman: Missouri’s First Lady of Song will be of great value to anyone interested in Missouri history, women’s studies, or the history of popular entertainment in the twentieth century.
In A Language of Song, Samuel Charters—one of the pioneering collectors of African American music—writes of a trip to West Africa where he found “a gathering of cultures and a continuing history that lay behind the flood of musical expression [he] encountered everywhere . . . from Brazil to Cuba, to Trinidad, to New Orleans, to the Bahamas, to dance halls of west Louisiana and the great churches of Harlem.” In this book, Charters takes readers along to those and other places, including Jamaica and the Georgia Sea Islands, as he recounts experiences from a half-century spent following, documenting, recording, and writing about the Africa-influenced music of the United States, Brazil, and the Caribbean.
Each of the book’s fourteen chapters is a vivid rendering of a particular location that Charters visited. While music is always his focus, the book is filled with details about individuals, history, landscape, and culture. In first-person narratives, Charters relates voyages including a trip to the St. Louis home of the legendary ragtime composer Scott Joplin and the journey to West Africa, where he met a man who performed an hours-long song about the Europeans’ first colonial conquests in Gambia. Throughout the book, Charters traces the persistence of African musical culture despite slavery, as well as the influence of slaves’ songs on subsequent musical forms. In evocative prose, he relates a lifetime of travel and research, listening to brass bands in New Orleans; investigating the emergence of reggae, ska, and rock-steady music in Jamaica’s dancehalls; and exploring the history of Afro-Cuban music through the life of the jazz musician Bebo Valdés. A Language of Song is a unique expedition led by one of music’s most observant and well-traveled explorers.
When Jews left Aleppo, Syria, in the early twentieth century and established communities abroad, they carried with them a repertory of songs (pizmonim) with sacred Hebrew texts set to melodies borrowed from the popular Middle Eastern Arab musical tradition. Let Jasmine Rain Down tells the story of the pizmonim as they have continued to be composed, performed, and transformed through the present day; it is thus an innovative ethnography of an important Judeo-Arabic musical tradition and a probing contribution to studies of the link between collective memory and popular culture.
Shelemay views the intersection of music, individual remembrances, and collective memory through the pizmonim. Reconstructing a century of pizmon history in America based on research in New York, Mexico, and Israel, she explains how verbal and musical memories are embedded in individual songs and how these songs perform both what has been remembered and what otherwise would have been forgotten. In confronting issues of identity and meaning in a postmodern world, Shelemay moves ethnomusicology into the domain of memory studies.
Life Woven with Song
Nora Marks Dauenhauer University of Arizona Press, 2000 Library of Congress PS501.S85 vol. 41 | Dewey Decimal 810.80054
The Tlingit Indians of southeastern Alaska are known for their totem poles, Chilkat blankets, and ocean-going canoes. Nora Marks Dauenhauer is a cultural emissary of her people and now tells the story of her own life within the context of her community's. Life Woven with Song re-creates in written language the oral tradition of the Tlingit people as it records memories of Dauenhauer's heritage--of older relatives and Tlingit elders, of trolling for salmon and preparing food in the dryfish camps, of making a living by working in canneries. She explores these recurring themes of food and land, salmon and rainforest, from changing perspectives--as a child, a mother, and a grandmother--and through a variety of literary forms.
In prose, Dauenhauer presents stories such as "Egg Boat"--the tale of a twelve-year-old girl fishing the North Pacific for the first time alone--and an autobiographical piece that reveals much about Tlingit lifeways. Then in a section of short lyrical poems she offers crystalline tributes to her land and people. In a concluding selection of plays, Dauenhauer presents three Raven stories that were adapted as stage plays from oral versions told in Tlingit by three storytellers of her community. These plays were commissioned by the Naa Kahidi Theater and have been performed throughout America and Europe. They take the form of a storyteller delivering a narrative while other members of the cast act and dance in masks and costumes.
Collectively, Dauenhauer's writings form an "autoethnography," offering new insight into how the Tlingit have been affected by modernization and how Native American culture perseveres in the face of change. Despite the hardships her people have seen, this woman affirms the goodness of life as found in family and community, in daily work and play, and in tribal traditions.
There have been many books written about Johnny Cash, but The Man in Song is the first to examine Cash’s incredible life through the lens of the songs he wrote and recorded. Music journalist and historian John Alexander has drawn on decades of studying Cash’s music and life, from his difficult depression-era Arkansas childhood through his death in 2003, to tell a life story through songs familiar and obscure. In discovering why Cash wrote a given song or chose to record it, Alexander introduces readers anew to a man whose primary consideration of any song was the difference music makes in people’s lives, and not whether the song would become a hit.
The hits came, of course. Johnny Cash sold more than fifty million albums in forty years, and he holds the distinction of being the only performer inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. The Man in Song connects treasured songs to an incredible life. It explores the intertwined experience and creativity of childhood trauma. It rifles through the discography of a life: Cash’s work with the Tennessee Two at Sam Phillips’s Sun Studios, the unique concept albums Cash recorded for Columbia Records, the spiritual songs, the albums recorded live at prisons, songs about the love of his life, June Carter Cash, songs about murder and death and addiction, songs about ramblers, and even silly songs.
Appropriate for both serious country and folk music enthusiasts and those just learning about this musical legend, The Man in Song will appeal to a fan base spanning generations. Here is a biography for those who first heard “I Walk the Line” in 1956, a younger generation who discovered Cash through songs like his cover of Trent Reznor’s “Hurt,” and everyone in between.
"This book seamlessly combines biography and criticism. [Lanigan] adeptly analyzes Austin's life...and also offers insightful analyses of Austin's writing. Like other females of her period, she received too little recognition for her original prose style and social critiques. Thanks to Song of a Maverick, we hear Mary Austin's voice more clearly and appreciatively." —Carol J. Singley in American Literature
"[Lanigan] provides illuminating sociological background and lucidly marshals the existing biolgraphical data." —Choice
"Mary Hunter Austin was a well-known and respected author and activitst in her lifetime but is little known in ours. In this excellent biography...[Lanigan] chose to focus on a few central relationships in Austin's life, to explore in some depth a few central texts, and to understand the interior life of her subject. She has done a splendid job." —Ann J. Lane in the Journal of American History
Never Without a Song focuses on the centrality of folksong in the life of Jennie Devlin, a woman who worked for fourteen years as a "bound-out girl," or serving maid, along the New York-Pennsylvania border in the late 1800s. Largely ignored and unwanted, Devlin persevered through Dickensian misfortunes to find love and raise a family (often alone) in Philadelphia and Gloucester, New Jersey. Katharine Newman met Devlin in 1936 and compiled information about the older woman's life and music. Half a century later, Newman returned to her collection in retirement, with her own perspective of age. The result is a unique biography of an American working-class woman, told with depth and candor. Newman also includes "I Wish I'd Been Born a Boy," "James Bird," "Martha Decker," "My Grandmother's Old Armchair," and other pieces, both British and American, most with tunes.
To many Native American cultures, songs and stories are dramatic enactments of reality, and words bring reality into existence. In this chapter from his award-winning book, The Anguish of Snails, Toelken thoughtfully approaches a number of stories from Native American traditions, discussing how narratives can be touchstones of shared values among closely associated traditional people and how songs and stories go far beyond an evening's entertainment or "lessons” about life. A traditional narrative can be a culturally structured way of thinking and of experiencing the patterns that make culture real.
The Fellowship Independent Baptist Church near Stanley, Virginia, was a group of fundamental Christian believers broadly representative of southern Appalachian belief and practice. Jeff Todd Titon worked with this Baptist community for more than ten years in his attempt to determine the nature of language in the practice of their religion. He traces specialized vocabulary and its applications through the acts of being saved, praying, preaching, teaching, and in particular singing. Titon argues that religious language is performed and the context of its occurrence is crucial to our understanding and to a holistic view of not only religious practice but of folklife and ethnomusicology. Titon’s monumental study of The Fellowship Independent Baptist Church produced not only the first edition book but also an album and documentary film.
In this second edition of Powerhouse for God, Titon revisits The Fellowship Independent Baptist Church nearly four decades later. Brother John Sherfey, the charismatic preacher steeped in Appalachian tradition has passed away and left his congregation to his son, Donnie, to lead. While Appalachian Virginia has changed markedly over the decades, the town of Stanley and the Fellowship Church have not. Titon relates this rarity in his new Afterword: a church founded on Biblical literalism and untouched by modern progressivism in an area of Appalachia that has seen an evolution in population, industry, and immigration.
Titon’s unforgettable study of folklife, musicology, and Appalachian religion is available for a new generation of scholars to build upon.
As in many Native American communities, people on the San Carlos Apache reservation in southeastern Arizona have for centuries been exposed to contradictory pressures. One set of expectations is about conversion and modernization—spiritual, linguistic, cultural, technological. Another is about steadfast perseverance in the face of this cultural onslaught. Within this contradictory context lies the question of what validates a sense of Apache identity.
For many people on the San Carlos reservation, both the traditional calls of the Mountain Spirits and the hard edge of a country, rock, or reggae song can evoke the feeling of being Apache. Using insights gained from both linguistic and musical practices in the community—as well as from his own experience playing in an Apache country band—David W. Samuels explores the complex expressive lives of these people to offer new ways of thinking about cultural identity.
Samuels analyzes how people on the reservation make productive use of popular culture forms to create and transform contemporary expressions of Apache cultural identity. As Samuels learned, some popular songs—such as those by Bob Marley—are reminiscent of history and bring about an alignment of past and present for the Apache listener. Thinking about Geronimo, for instance, might mean one thing, but “putting a song on top of it” results in a richer meaning. Samuels also proposes that the concept of the pun, as both a cultural practice and a means of analysis, helps us understand the ways in which San Carlos Apaches are able to make cultural symbols point in multiple directions at once. Through these punning, layered expressions, people on the reservation express identities that resonate with the complicated social and political history of the Apache community.
This richly detailed study challenges essentialist notions of Native American tribal and ethnic identity by revealing the turbulent complexity of everyday life on the reservation. Samuels’s work is a multifaceted exploration of the complexities of sound, of language, and of the process of constructing and articulating identity in the twenty-first century.
In Reimagining the Middle Passage: Black Resistance in Literature, Television, and Song, Tara T. Green turns to twentieth- and recent twenty-first-century representations of the Middle Passage created by African-descended artists and writers. Examining how these writers and performers revised and reimagined the Middle Passage in their work, Green argues that they recognized it as a historical and geographical site of trauma as well as a symbol for a place of understanding and change. Their work represents the legacy African captives left for resisting “social death” (the idea that Black life does not matter), but it also highlights strong resistance to that social death (the idea that it does matter).
Exploring the presence of water and its impact on African descendants,Reimagining the Middle Passageoffers fresh analyses of Alex Haley’sRootsand the television adaptations; the history of flooding in Black communities in literature such as Jesmyn Ward’sSalvage the Bonesand Paule Marshall’sPraisesong for the Widow, in blues songs, and in television shows such asTreme; and stories of resistance found in myths associated with Marie Laveau and flying Africans.
Silence and Song
Melanie Rae Thon University of Alabama Press, 2015 Library of Congress PS3570.H6474S55 2015 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Immigrants lost in the blistering expanse of the Sonoran Desert, problem bears, bats pollinating saguaros, a Good Samaritan filling tanks at emergency water stations, and the terrified runaway boy who shoots him pierce the heart and mind of Rosana Derais. “Vanishings,” the first story in Silence and Song, is a love letter, a prayer to these strangers whose lives penetrate and transform Rosana’s own sorrow.
In “Translations,” the prose poem connecting the two longer fictions, child refugees at a multilingual literacy center in Salt Lake City discover the merciful “translation” of dance and pantomime.
The convergence of two disparate events—a random murder in Seattle and the nuclear accident at Chernobyl—catalyze the startling, eruptive form of the concluding piece,“requiem: home: and the rain, after.” Narrated in first person by the killer’s sister and plural first person by the “liquidators” who come to the Evacuation Zone to bury entire villages poisoned by radioactive fallout, “requiem” navigates the immediate trauma of murder and environmental disaster; personal and global devastation; and the remarkable recovery of the miraculously diverse more-than-human world.
This book is a lyrical, scholarly exploration of the connection between one family's musical traditions and its rural community of Zion, Arkansas. In 1959, three Gilbert sisters—Alma, Helen, and Phydella—began compiling songs they remembered as their own and sending them to one another in letters. Their tendency to center memory in sound rather than sight reveals an unusual musical birthright. Robert Cochran has constructed a composite portrait of this family for whom music is the center of life. He examines their lived experience as they anchor their history through song, singing, and the playing of musical instruments. The Gilberts are wonderful exemplars of the "mediation of oral tradition," and when approached through their music, they reveal themselves as remarkable individuals with an elaborate and firmly held sense of their unique identities. A decade in the making, Singing in Zion is written with a memoirist's sense of family history and an ethnographer's sense of the rich encounter of worlds. This narrative has a seductive simplicity that conveys much of the Gilbert family's charm while at the same time establishing a broader framework that is firmly academic. It will be enjoyed by all readers.
This collection of new translations of eighty poems provides a pleasant, thought-provoking reminder of love’s vagaries as captured through the wit, charm, and insight of the master poets of antiquity.
All the emotions and experiences associated with love—rejection, infatuation, ecstasy, desperation, loneliness—are rendered accessible to contemporary readers through this lively, modern, yet faithful English translation of works that date from the seventh century B.C.to the sixth century A.D.Illustrations accompany the poetry of Plato, Sappho, Stratto, Meleagros, and others, capturing both the flavor of the age and the theme of the texts.
"A rich, descriptive account. . . . Shelemay presents extraordinary personal experiences that shaped her research process and make reading this text pleasurable."
-- Library Journal
"Highly recommended to generalists in music as well as to specialists interested in Ethiopia. . . . Also makes an excellent case study text for university-level courses examining fieldwork issues and conditions."
"Highly recommended for both undergraduate and graduate collections in ethnomusicology, anthropology, African, and Judaic studies."
This book offers the most comprehensive and detailed reading to date of Song of Myself. One of the most distinguished critics in Whitman Studies, Ed Folsom, and one of the nation’s most prominent writers and literary figures, Christopher Merrill, carry on a dialog with Whitman, and with each other, section by section, as they invite readers to enter into the conversation about how the poem develops, moves, improvises, and surprises. Instead of picking and choosing particular passages to support a reading of the poem, Folsom and Merrill take Whitman at his word and interact with “every atom” of his work. The book presents Whitman’s final version of the poem, arranged in fifty-two sections; each section is followed by Folsom’s detailed critical examination of the passage, and then Merrill offers a poet’s perspective, suggesting broader contexts for thinking about both the passage in question and the entire poem.
In the midst of a crisis of democracy, we have much to learn from Walt Whitman’s journey toward egalitarian selfhood.
Walt Whitman knew a great deal about democracy that we don’t. Most of that knowledge is concentrated in one stunning poem, Song of Myself.
Esteemed cultural and literary thinker Mark Edmundson offers a bold reading of the 1855 poem, included here in its entirety. He finds in the poem the genesis and development of a democratic spirit, for the individual and the nation. Whitman broke from past literature that he saw as “feudal”: obsessed with the noble and great. He wanted instead to celebrate the common and everyday. Song of Myself does this, setting the terms for democratic identity and culture in America. The work captures the drama of becoming an egalitarian individual, as the poet ascends to knowledge and happiness by confronting and overcoming the major obstacles to democratic selfhood. In the course of his journey, the poet addresses God and Jesus, body and soul, the love of kings, the fear of the poor, and the fear of death. The poet’s consciousness enlarges; he can see more, comprehend more, and he has more to teach.
In Edmundson’s account, Whitman’s great poem does not end with its last line. Seven years after the poem was published, Whitman went to work in hospitals, where he attended to the Civil War’s wounded, sick, and dying. He thus became in life the democratic individual he had prophesied in art. Even now, that prophecy gives us words, thoughts, and feelings to feed the democratic spirit of self and nation.
In 1521, the young Polish diplomat Nicolaus Hussovianus was watching the bullfights at a papal celebration in Rome. He remarked that the spectacle reminded him of the bison hunts he had witnessed as a young man in the Polish-Lithuanian woods, and his employer then asked Hussovianus to write a poem about the bison hunts, to accompany the gift of a stuffed bison for Pope Leo X, an avid hunter. Song of the Bison is the first complete English translation of Hussovianus’s Latin poem, which is claimed as a national epic by Lithuania, Belarus, and Poland. The exciting poem discusses not only Hussovianus’s own experience in hunting and observing the European bison, but also the political, social, religious, and aesthetic developments of sixteenth-century Europe, and ends with an urgent plea for unity among European states threatened by foreign invasions.
In the first ecological reading of English literature, Jonathan Bate traces the distinctions among "nature," "culture," and "environment" and shows how their meanings have changed since their appearance in the literature of the eighteenth century.
The Soviets are often viewed as insatiable industrialists who saw nature as a force to be tamed and exploited. Song of the Forest counters this assumption, uncovering significant evidence of Soviet conservation efforts in forestry, particularly under Josef Stalin. In his compelling study, Stephen Brain profiles the leading Soviet-era conservationists, agencies, and administrators, and their efforts to formulate forest policy despite powerful ideological differences.
By the time of the revolution of 1905, modern Russian forestry science had developed an influential romantic strand, especially prevalent in the work of Georgii Morozov, whose theory of “stand types” asked forest managers to consider native species and local conditions when devising plans for regenerating forests. After their rise to power, the Bolsheviks turned their backs on this tradition and adopted German methods, then considered the most advanced in the world, for clear-cutting and replanting of marketable tree types in “artificial forests.” Later, when Stalin’s Five Year Plan required vast amounts of timber for industrialization, forest radicals proposed “flying management,” an exaggerated version of German forestry where large tracts of virgin forest would be clear-cut. Opponents who still upheld Morozov’s vision favored a conservative regenerating approach, and ultimately triumphed by establishing the world’s largest forest preserve.
Another radical turn came with the Great Stalin Plan for the Transformation of Nature, implemented in 1948. Narrow “belts” of new forest planted on the vast Russian steppe would block drying winds, provide cool temperatures, trap moisture, and increase crop production. Unfortunately, planters were ordered to follow the misguided methods of the notorious Trofim Lysenko, and the resulting yields were abysmal. But despite Lysenko, agency infighting, and an indifferent peasant workforce, Stalin’s forestry bureaus eventually succeeded in winning many environmental concessions from industrial interests. In addition, the visionary teachings of Morozov found new life, ensuring that the forest’s song did not fall upon deaf ears.
As one of the great mining regions of Colorado and the United States, the San Juan Mountains provide insight into the development of both the industry and the state. First published in 1982, Song of the Hammer and Drill, with the help of more than 100 historical photographs, traces the mining and urban history of the San Juans from 1860-1914 through the lives of the people who opened, settled, and developed the beautiful but rugged mineral-rich peaks of southwestern Colorado.
Ramón López Velarde (1888-1921) was one of the most Mexican of Mexican poets, whose sense of history found expression in many poems, including his best-known "La suave Patria" ("Sweet Land"). This bilingual collection, drawn primarily from Poesías completas y el minutero, offers English-language readers our first book-length introduction to his poetry.
Often called a "poet of the provinces," López Velarde gives us a glimpse into a slower and more gentle way of life. His poems present the contrast between city and hometown and between urban and pastoral landscapes. Through these contrasts runs the thread of religious faith, while urgency of language informs the entire body of his poetic production.
Original, specially commissioned drawings by noted contemporary Mexican artist Juan Soriano complement the poems. This combination of poetry and art speaks to universal emotions; indeed the poetry of López Velarde belongs to everyone who sings the Song of the Heart.
Song of the Simple Truth (Canción de la verdad sencilla) is the first bilingual edition of Julia de Burgos' complete poems. Numbering more than 200, these poems form a literary landmark—the first time her poems have appeared in a complete edition in either English or Spanish. Many of the verses presented here had been lost and are presented here for the first time in print. De Burgos broke new ground in her poetry by fusing a romantic temperament with keen political insights. This book will be essential reading for lovers of poetry and for feminists.
Song Of Thieves
Shara McCallum University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003 Library of Congress PS3563.C33446S66 2003 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
Song of Thieves delves into issues of racial identity and politics, the immigrant experience, and the search for "home" and family histories. In this follow-up to her award-winning debut collection, The Water Between Us, Shara McCallum artfully draws from the language and imagery of her Caribbean background to play a haunting and soulful tune.
Song of Tides
Tom Joseph University of Alabama Press, 2008 Library of Congress PS3610.O677S66 2008 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
Beginning with their battle against the forces of Ponce de Leon, the Calusa Indians of southwest Florida entered a dark period of European invasion and native resistance, which changed the nature and course of life on the North American continent.
Song of the Tides is a work of anthropological fiction that is set during the period of the Spanish entrada into southwest Florida and their encounters with the Calusa. Relying on letters and memoirs, especially those of explorer Pedro Menendez de Aviles, shipwrecked captive Escalante Fontaneda, and the Jesuit priest Juan Rogel, Joseph has woven a tale of vivid historical detail and compelling human drama. Working with Calusa scholars, the author has created a superbly written account of the clash of two proud and dominant cultures. Told through the voice of Aesha, daughter of the great Calusa chief Caalus, as well as those of other political and spiritual leaders, the fictional narrative spans half a century of conflict with Spanish soldiers and Jesuits, infighting between bands, struggle to preserve their culture, and eventual defeat of the Spanish through wit and deceit.
The Song of Youth
Montserrat Roig, Translated by Tiago Miller Fum d'Estampa Press, 2021
In The Song of Youth, Montserrat Roig boldly presents eight remarkable stories that use language as a weapon against political and social “dismemory.” Her powerful and striking prose allows the important stories of those silenced by the brutal Franco regime to, at last, come to the fore. The Song of Youth is undoubtedly feminist and deeply critical but, as always, Roig’s lyrical writing gives shape, depth, and significance to the human experience.
This deeply felt memoir is a love letter to Washington, DC. Carol Lancaster, a third-generation Washingtonian who knew the city like few others, takes readers on a tour of the nation’s capital from its swamp-infested beginnings to the present day, with an insider’s view of the gritty politics, environment, society, culture, and larger-than-life heroes that characterize her beloved hometown. The former dean of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, a friend of presidents and dignitaries all over the globe, Lancaster colorfully describes the city’s three near-death experiences and the many triumphs and tribulations that emerged as the city took shape. Along the way she provides brief biographies of three of the most influential figures in the city’s history: urban designer Pierre Charles L’Enfant, whose vision for the city was realized only after his death; civic leader “Boss” Shepherd, whose strong-arm tactics cleaned up the downtown area and helped create the walking mall we know today; and controversial mayor Marion Barry, whose rise and fall and resurrection underscored the contemporary challenges of home rule.
Teeming with informative anecdotes and two dozen illustrations of landmarks and key characters, Lancaster’s memoir is a personal and passionate paean to the most powerful city in the world—from one of its most illustrious native daughters.
While indigenous languages have become prominent in global political and educational discourses, limited attention has been given to indigenous children’s everyday communication. Voices of Play is a study of multilingual play and performance among Miskitu children growing up on Corn Island, part of a multi-ethnic autonomous region on the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua.
Corn Island is historically home to Afro-Caribbean Creole people, but increasing numbers of Miskitu people began moving there from the mainland during the Contra War, and many Spanish-speaking mestizos from western Nicaragua have also settled there. Miskitu kids on Corn Island often gain some competence speaking Miskitu, Spanish, and Kriol English. As the children of migrants and the first generation of their families to grow up with television, they develop creative forms of expression that combine languages and genres, shaping intercultural senses of belonging.
Voices of Play is the first ethnography to focus on the interaction between music and language in children’s discourse. Minks skillfully weaves together Latin American, North American, and European theories of culture and communication, creating a transdisciplinary dialogue that moves across intellectual geographies. Her analysis shows how music and language involve a wide range of communicative resources that create new forms of belonging and enable dialogue across differences. Miskitu children’s voices reveal the intertwining of speech and song, the emergence of “self” and “other,” and the centrality of aesthetics to social struggle.
This wonderfully rich anthology uses the soul-shaping power of story, speech, and song to help Americans realize more deeply—and appreciate more fully—who they are as citizens of the United States.
At once inspiring and thought-provoking, What So Proudly We Hail features dozens of selections on American identity, character, and civic life by our country’s greatest writers and leaders—from Mark Twain to John Updike, from George Washington to Theodore Roosevelt, from Willa Cather to Flannery O’Connor, from Benjamin Franklin to Martin Luther King Jr., from Francis Scott Key to Irving Berlin.
Developing robust American citizens involves educating the heart as well as the mind. It is not enough to understand our nation’s lofty principles or know our history; thoughtful and engaged citizens require cultivated moral imaginations and fitting sentiments and attitudes—matters both displayed in and nurtured by our great works of imaginative literature and rhetoric.
Featuring the editors’ insightful and instructive commentary, What So Proudly We Hail illuminates our national identity, the American creed, the American character, and the virtues and aspirations of active citizenship. This marvelous book will not only be a fixture on bedside tables; it will also spark conversations in homes, schools, colleges, and reading groups everywhere.