John Crowe Ransom Discussion Topics

Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

What parts of John Crowe Ransom’s academic and personal background explain his tastes in English poetry?

Ransom was well acquainted with the King James Bible, and his poems frequently echo the Scriptures in diction, syntax, and metaphysical issues. Examine three or four of his poems and point out examples of direct and indirect influence.

Ransom repeatedly was associated with groups of writers and intellectuals. In what ways were his poetry and criticism changed by association with these critics and writers? In what ways was their work changed by association with Ransom?

Critics have sometimes considered Ransom’s poetry cold and detached. Explain why this criticism is or is not justified. What elements in his poetic philosophy explain the persona he created?

According to Ransom, poetry possesses a dual nature, a logical sequence of meanings and an objective pattern of sounds. How do his choices of metrical forms and diction affect tone in his poems?

Although contemporary poets speak admiringly of Ransom, none has emulated his style, especially in diction and tone. What factors in his background and experiences probably are unavailable to contemporary poets?

Many Ransom poems deal with death, decay or loss. Does his emphasis on these subjects make Ransom’s poems morbid? How does he avoid this problem?