Hired Men and Hired Women

John Marsh

in The Oxford Handbook of Modern and Contemporary American Poetry

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780195398779
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Hired Men and Hired Women

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  • Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)
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This article identifies poets' engagements with material problems of manual labor that a more elitist critical aesthetic had preferred to ignore. It offers readings of two of the mostly frequently anthologized poems in the modern American poetry canon: Robert Frost's “The Death of the Hired Man” and T. S. Eliot's “Preludes.” Each can suggest the integral but long-neglected role that the labor problem and those who lived it—that is, the poor and working class—would play in the formation of canonical modern American poetry. Although they confront vastly different labor problems—hired laborers versus urban slums and prostitutes—both poems nevertheless wrestle with the claims such problems (and the human figures behind such problems) should make upon observers' sympathies.

Keywords: manual labor; Robert Frost; The Death of the Hired Man; T. S. Eliot; Preludes

Article.  11507 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (20th Century onwards) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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