A Common Thread

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: May 03, 2017

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Submitted: May 03, 2017



Shana Birnbaum  Mrs. Glazer 

March 14, 2017 English 11

  A Common Thread

In the current era there is an abundance of relatable reading material geared specifically for all types of people. It was not always this way; in the early 1800s  literature was written exclusively for the elite. Then dawned a new era of literature: the American Romantic style took off in the 1830s and brought with it inspiration, individualism, imagination, innocence, idealism, and intuition. However, these characteristics aren't specific to any single literary genre. In fact, American Romantic Literature can be found in many diverse pieces of literature, from Walt Whitman's, “Song of an Open Road,” to modern day songs, such as “Somewhere over the Rainbow,” by Yip Harburg, and Anthony Newley's, “Pure Imagination”.  

The quality of innocence is one found in abundance in Whitman’s, “Song of an Open Road.” The characteristic is seen in the verses, “I did not know I held so much goodness,” and “All seems beautiful to me.”(9-10) The poet is viewing the world with an innocent new perspective, seeing himself and the world in a new light, one of goodness and beauty. He has an almost childlike wonder at the beauty and goodness he has newly discovered in the world and within himself. The quality of inspiration is also found in this poem, however it is seen more clearly in the lyrics of,“Somewhere over the Rainbow.”

In the song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” lyricist Yip Harburg conveys a message of inspiration, one of the 6 characteristics of American Romantic literature. The message is most clearly seen in the lyric, “Somewhere over the rainbow the skies are blue/And the dreams that you dare dream do come true”.(3-4) This straightforward message of inspiration is a powerful one: keep hope and soon enough your  aspirations will prove worthwhile. Another example of American Romantic style literature found in a modern day songs is “Pure Imagination.”

The characteristic of American Romantic literature can be found in a variety of literary pieces, some more obvious than others. The quality found in the song, “Pure Imagination,”  by lyricists Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, is an obvious one. Imagination is the characteristic and it is seen most clearly in the verse, “There is no/ Place to go/To compare with your imagination”.(35-38) The lyricists convey the power of the imagination and the wonders of fantasy. The most wonderful places on earth are inventions of one's own imagination. Imagination is one of the most beautiful elements of American Romantic Literature.

Qualities of American Romantic literature are found in a variety of writings. These literary pieces can be incredibly diverse, from deep poems such as Whitman’s, “Song of an Open Road” to Yip Harburg's, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” While these works are centuries apart, what ties them together is their use of American Romantic qualities. These qualities are not only found in literature they can also be found in day to day life. The imagination of an ordinary child playing pretend, or the inspiration from nature that comes from a fresh snowfall or budding flowers, even when they happen to emerge at the same time. And the sometimes hidden individualism of every person. While all these things may seem remarkably different they all have a common thread, the characteristics of American Romantic literature. Don't judge a book, or any piece of literature, by its cover. For as it is with most things, especially people, though they may seem remarkably different at first glance upon closer inspection, clear similarities can be found.


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