Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Is the caption “The Structure of Rime,” applied to Robert Duncan’s collective writings on the art of poetry, misleading in its scope?

Examine the unusual (that is, unexpected in their context) words in the poem “Often I Am Permitted to Return to a Meadow,” beginning with the word “permitted.” What do such words contribute to the poem—especially to the tone?

Considering Duncan’s interpretation of responsibility as “the ability to respond,” what evidence do his poems furnish of his capacity to respond to a variety of subjects and influences?

What is Duncan’s concept of spirituality? What religious and philosophical traditions contribute to it?

How can careful attention to the diction of Duncan’s poems contribute to a person’s understanding of the subject of etymology?

By what techniques does Duncan overcome his reader’s possible reluctance to commit to and enjoy a long poem?