Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Masque of the Red Death’

A full reading of Poe’s work. By Edgar Allan Poe (1842) The Masque of the Red Death is a short story by American writer Edgar Allan Poe, first published in 1842. The work follows in full (public domain): The red death had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so[…]

Ten Great Ancient and Medieval Persian Poets

These poets would affect the literary arts of cultures around the world and continue to inspire readers in the present day. Introduction Persian literature derives from a long oral tradition of poetic storytelling. The first recorded example of this tradition is the Behistun Inscription of Darius I (the Great, r. 522-486 BCE), carved on a[…]

Anne Bradstreet: America’s First Literary Voice in the 17th Century

America’s first literary star, Anne Bradstreet, who was a pioneer in more ways than one. Anne came to the new American colony in 1630 from Great Britain, with her husband Simon Bradstreet and family. She was just 18. They were Puritans who left the home country because of political and religious tensions. But traveling by[…]

Ferdowsi and the ‘Epic of Kings’ in Medieval Persia

He was the author of the Shāhnāmeh (Epic of Kings), the national epic of the Persian-speaking world. Introduction Hakīm Abū l-Qāsim Firdawsī Tūsī, more commonly transliterated as Ferdowsi (also Firdowsi), (935–1020) was a highly revered Persian poet. He was the author of the Shāhnāmeh (Epic of Kings), the national epic of the Persian-speaking world. He[…]

The Messy Genius of W. H. Auden

A disheveled poet crafted verse of exquisite order. Thanks to the popular 1994 movie Four Weddings and a Funeral, thousands of people who had probably never read a word from poet W. H. Auden have been exposed to his work. In one scene, a character eulogizes his companion by reciting Auden’s “Funeral Blues” for the other mourners. The poem is[…]

The Celebration of Nature in Victorian Poetry

The pervading strength and influence of Christianity becomes apparent in the abundance of religious poetry created during the Victorian period. Introduction Despite the publication of Darwin’s radical text On the Origin of Species  (1859),which promoted a theory of evolution that directly threatened the authority of Genesis, the pervading strength and influence of Christianity becomes apparent in[…]

American Poet Elizabeth Bishop in the Edgy Culture of Mid-20th Century Brazil

“The loneliest person who ever lived,” she once called herself. As Brazil attempts to train all eyes on the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics, observers continue to be distracted by the country’s travails: the recent Zika outbreak, economic difficulties, and the controversial impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. Not a few people are wondering how[…]

The Man Who Made American Modernism and Modernism American

Jame’s Laughlin’s life amalgamated many seemingly dissonant strains in twentieth-century America into a coherent whole. The American poet-critic Ezra Pound believed that present throughout history are nodes of energy, bundles of power and expression that meld together many diverse and even conflicting forces and ideas into a harmonious whole. These nodes of energy could be[…]

The Poetry of Mary, Queen of Scots

She was known not only for her political status, but also for her textual skill – whether authentic or imagined. Think Mary, Queen of Scots and a few key facts probably come to mind: she was Catholic, she was imprisoned and she had her head chopped off. But a poet who offers insight into 16th-century[…]