Study Guide

Robert Hayden

by Asa Bundy Sheffey

Robert Hayden Summary

Summary (Masterpieces of American Literature)

Although short-sighted critics once decried Hayden’s lack of poetic commitment, his verse did turn upon profoundly political themes. What was especially objectionable to such critics was that Hayden never adopted a blaring tone. In fact, his chosen style, the mingling of different voices and tones, precluded this. Yet the polyphony that was his signature style itself embodied a radical democracy in verse. He did not present his readers with one set poet’s voice but made them discover that whatever beauty and truth could be found was the product of interlacing voices.