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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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3. Utopian Promise   

10. Rhythms
in Poetry

•  Unit Overview
•  Using the Video
•  Authors
- HD (Hilda Doolittle)
- T. S. Eliot
- Robert Frost
- Langston Hughes
- Claude McKay
- Ezra Pound
- Carl Sandburg
- Genevieve Taggard
- Jean Toomer
- William Carlos Williams
- Suggested
•  Timeline
•  Activities


The information for each author includes biographical and contextual materials and activities.

H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) (1886-1961)
Born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Hilda Doolittle attended exclusive private schools in Philadelphia and was admitted to Bryn Mawr College. Her father was a professor of mathematics and astronomy at Lehigh University and the University of Pennsylvania. After attending Bryn Mawr for two years, H.D. stopped her formal schooling because... Go

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965)
Born in St. Louis, Thomas Stearns Eliot was one of seven children. Originally from New England, the Eliot family's lineage was bound to both religion and education. Eliot's grandfather, a graduate of Harvard Divinity School, moved to St. Louis in 1834, where he began a Unitarian Church and founded Washington... Go

Robert Frost (1874-1963)
Although Robert Frost was born in San Francisco, where he spent his first eleven years, he is commonly associated with the rugged landscape and traditional values of rural New England. His father, William Frost, graduated with honors from Harvard and spent most of his life working as a journalist, but alcoholism led to an early death in 1885. In answer to William's wishes... Go

Langston Hughes (1902-1967)
Langston Hughes stands as one of the most prolific writers in American history: he wrote poetry, two novels, two autobiographies, three volumes of short stories, several plays and musicals, over twenty years of newspaper columns, twelve children's books, and countless essays. Born in Joplin, Missouri, James Langston Hughes spent most... Go

Claude McKay (1889-1948)
Born in Jamaica, Claude McKay came to America to study agriculture at Tuskegee Institute, a historically black university founded by Booker T. Washington. After two years, he transferred to Kansas State College, but soon realized that his talents were better suited to writing than farming. In 1917, McKay arrived in Greenwich Village, where he sought out... Go

Ezra Pound (1885-1972)
Like T. S. Eliot, with whom he enjoyed a long friendship, Ezra Pound lived his early years in the United States but spent most of his life and career elsewhere. Born in Idaho, Pound spent his formative years on the East Coast. At sixteen, he attended the University of Pennsylvania and subsequently enrolled at... Go

Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)
Carl Sandburg was born in Galesburg, Illinois, to parents who had emigrated from Sweden. His father was a hard-working blacksmith, but the young Sandburg didn't exhibit his father's enthusiasm for manual labor and a steady home life. Sandburg left school after the eighth grade and then worked at a variety of odd jobs before volunteering in the Spanish American War in... Go

Genevieve Taggard (1894-1948)
Born in Waitsburg, Washington, Genevieve Taggard was raised in Hawaii, where her parents ran a school. Taggard attended the University of California at Berkeley on a scholarship. In 1920 she moved to New York City, where she worked for publisher B. W. Huebsch and, along with several other writers, including Maxwell Anderson, started a journal... Go

Jean Toomer (1894-1967)
Born in Washington, D.C., Nathan Eugene Toomer was raised by his grandparents. He studied at several universities, including the University of Wisconsin, Massachusetts College of Agriculture, and New York University. After college, he held a variety of jobs, including ship fitter, car salesman, and physical education teacher. Enamored of the art scene... Go

William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)
Born in Rutherford, New Jersey, William Carlos Williams was the son of an English immigrant and a mother born in Puerto Rico. After studying in Switzerland and Paris, Williams returned to America permanently, and came to regard with disdain the vogue of expatriate life followed by so many other writers of his generation. In 1902, Williams entered the University of... Go

Suggested Author PairingsGo

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