All rights reserved. Since it doesn't have any specific me A fly on the wall—that's the best way to describe the speaker of this poem. Okay, he's not literally a fly, but he's like a fly on the wall because he's watching this whipping unfold and, it seem There's a lot of vegetation in this poem trees, zinnias, elephant ears , but we're pretty sure "The Whipping" doesn't take place in a forest, even though it kind of seems like it sometimes.
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When Robert Hayden died in at the not-so-old-age of 66, he was a big deal in the poetry world—like a really big deal.
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When Robert Hayden died in at the not-so-old-age of 66, he was a big deal in the poetry world—like a really big deal. Just four years earlier in , he became the first African American poet laureate of the United States.
The honor was a just dessert, the cherry that capped off a nearly forty-year career that included a number of university teaching gigs, a few degrees from Detroit City College, later named Wayne State University, and the University of Michigan , and even a brief spell as the mentee of the great W.
Yes, we mean that W. Auden, as in Wystan Hugh Auden did you know that that was what the "W. Now, even though Hayden was pretty much a minor celebrity in the American poetry universe, things didn't work out so well in his life.
Okay, that's an understatement. They started out pretty terribly, actually. It's kind of a small miracle that Hayden had such a remarkable life, considering the fact that his parents split up and ditched him with some foster parents before he was old enough to know they were.
Hayden's foster parents weren't so great either. They were always at each other's throats, with Hayden's foster-father often beating up his foster-mother. At times they would get sick of fighting with each other and take turns violently abusing the young Robert Hayden.
All in all, his was not a fun childhood. In addition to an extremely violent home-life, Hayden was slightly shorter than the average inner city Detroit child and had really bad eyesight. His height, coupled with his visual impairments, meant that he couldn't really participate in organized sports like all the other kids. That may not seem like a big deal, but in those days everybody was playing sports. Hayden must have felt a little bit left out. It would be like going to an amusement park with fifty kids, and all of them were tall enough to go on the coolest roller coaster ever made —except for you.
Since his foster parents were always fighting, and since sports were pretty much out of the question, Hayden sought solace in books. He was kind of like that kid that you know who is always reading a book in between classes, at lunch, on the playground, etc. And in the end, all that reading paid off. In Hayden went to work for the Federal Writers Project. In he published his first book, Heart-Shape in the Dust.
In he received a master's degree from the University of Michigan, and then began a teaching career that lasted for the rest of his life. Through it all, Hayden found a way to make art out life's difficulties.
The violent and traumatic events of his childhood, for example, inspired famous poems like "The Whipping," which first appeared in in a volume fittingly titled A Ballad of Remembrance.
As you read through the "The Whipping," you can see how perhaps the young boy's feelings, and the woman's anger, are eerily similar to the experiences of Hayden's own life and perhaps to those of many abused children. Luckily, Hayden had the courage to put pen to paper about his difficult past. Study after study… after study has shown this. But violence doesn't only have to mean gun violence, or gang warfare, or global warfare.
Childhood, in fact, often explains the types of decisions people make later in life. It seems like whenever there is a horrific school shooting or other horrible crime, the first thing we ask about the criminal is, "What was their childhood like? If this is making any kind of sense, then you're well on your way to understanding Robert Hayden 's "The Whipping. The answer: everything. The poem is about violence, child abuse, and the origins of both. A young boy is being beaten child abuse by a woman who also, it seems, has been the victim of abuse.
The woman beats the boy because she's trying to "avenge" i. She proves that violence is a cycle with no end to it. For any of us to break that cycle, of course for ourselves or for others , we must first understand how it works. This poem is an important illustration of generational abuse, helping us to get a better handle of how violence gets passed along, and how we might break that chain in the future.
All rights reserved. The Whipping Introduction In A Nutshell When Robert Hayden died in at the not-so-old-age of 66, he was a big deal in the poetry world—like a really big deal. Cite This Page. Logging out…. Logging out You've been inactive for a while, logging you out in a few seconds I'm Still Here! W hy's T his F unny?
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The Whipping, by Robert Hayden by Jimmy Dugan on Prezi
The Whipping by Robert Hayden. The old woman across the way is whipping the boy again and shouting to the neighborhood her goodness and his wrongs. Wildly he crashes through elephant ears, pleads in dusty zinnias, while she in spite of crippling fat pursues and corners him.
She strikes and strikes the shrilly circling boy till the stick breaks in her hand. His tears are rainy weather to woundlike memories: My head gripped in bony vise of knees, the writhing struggle to wrench free, the blows, the fear worse than blows that hateful Words could bring, the face that I no longer knew or loved.
Well, it is over now, it is over, and the boy sobs in his room, And the woman leans muttering against a tree, exhausted, purged-- avenged in part for lifelong hidings she has had to bear. Previous Poem Next Poem. All Rights Reserved. The Poems and Quotes on this site are the property of their respective authors. All information has been reproduced here for educational and informational purposes.
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