Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

What is unusual about Robert Hayden’s understanding of, and valuation of, the past?

How did Hayden’s changing religious beliefs affect his poetry?

“Polyphony” is a musical term applied to a technique much used by Hayden. Explain its applicability.

The feeling in lyric poems is often a concomitant of a single voice. Is Hayden’s open-mindedness and willingness to assume different viewpoints a poetic asset or liability?

How does Hayden’s attitude toward the employment of black English in poetry differ from Nikki Giovanni’s?

Hayden is one of many American writers appreciated abroad while suffering long neglect at home before being accepted. What are the most likely reasons for this situation in his case?