The Parodies And Narratives Of Atrocity Of

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The Parodies And Narratives Of Atrocity Of Anthony Hecht Essay, Research Paper The Parodies and Narratives of Atrocity of Anthony Hecht Anthony Hecht, a past Pulitzer Prize winning poet and a former United States Poet Laureate, is arguably one of America’s best poets of the post-modern era. Born in 1923, he rose to literary prominence in the 1950s and 1960s with the publication of two books A Summoning of Stones (1954) and The Hard Hours (1967). In his writing, he uses wit to create a situation for parody and uses irony in his “narratives of atrocity” (Hecht, Vol. 19 209). Anthony Hecht’s poetry is renowned for its examples of parody that are all creations of his “classical erudition and wit” (Hecht, Vol. 19 207). He attempts to show the contrast between artistic,

false views of life and harsh reality through witty parody as seen in “Nominalism” and “The Dover Bitch: A Criticism of Life”(Hecht, Vol. 19 207). The wit provides poetry with strong, underlying meaning as seen in “Nominalism:” Higgledy-piggledy Juliet Capulet Cherished the tenderest Thoughts of a rose: “What’s in a name?” said she, Etymologically “Save that all Montagues Stink in God’s nose.” (Readings) Hecht creates parody in this piece by recounting a dramatic scene with a knowledgeable and humorous approach to the literature. The parody of Juliet Capulet’s famous line in Romeo and Juliet with such precision and craft as to fit both the meter and the classic Shakespearean language provides an example of Hecht’s use of wit to create a parody (Hecht,

Vol. 8 269). Hecht uses wit and parody in a similar manner in “The Dover Bitch: A Criticism of Life” which is a parody of Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach.” The tragic vision presented in the “The Dover Bitch” is of stark contrast to the romantic and idealistic vision of “Dover Beach” (Brown 121). Here Hecht shows through the use of wit the falsehood of Arnold’s beautiful yet unrealistic poem. “Dover Beach” ends with Arnold explaining to his girl that the only sure thing in this world is their relationship: Ah, love, let us be true To one another! for the world, which seems To lie before us like a land of dreams, So various, so beautiful, so new, Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain; And we are here as on a

darkling plain Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night. (Arnold 648) Arnold’s belief in the relationship of himself and this girl while stating that it is more stable than anything else in the world allows Hecht an easy avenue for criticism of Arnold’s belief. Consequently, Hecht’s poem begins with lines that convey the harsh reality that nothing in the world will last and especially not the love between two people (Brown 121): So there stood Matthew Arnold and this girl With the cliffs of England crumbling away behind them, And he said to her, “Try to be true to me, And I’ll do the same to you, for things are bad All over, etc., etc.” (Hecht, “The Dover Bitch” 1632) In the same manner that Hecht employs wit and

parody, he also employs irony and “narratives of atrocity” (Hecht, Vol. 19 209). Four poems “Birdwatchers of America,” “More Light! More Light!,” “The Vow,” and “Christmas is Coming” are the finest examples of this type of Hechtian poetry. “Birdwatchers of America” utilizes irony to create twists in the poem in its use of a dove as the bird that pecks out the eyes of a dead man (Hecht, “Birdwatchers of America” 1072). This use of the dove, typically a bird that represents peace, displays the role irony plays in Hecht’s works: It’s all very well to dream of a dove that saves, Picasso’s or the Pope’s, The one that annually coos in Our Lady’s ear Half of the world’s hopes… For instance, the woman next door, whom we hear at night, Claims that