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ENGL408: Modern Poetry and Poetics

Unit 2: The French Symbolists: The Fountainhead of Modernism   Now that you have a good sense of the conventions and assumptions that the modernists resisted, we will turn our attention to the French Symbolists in this unit. By studying the material in this unit, you will be able to answer questions about the relationship between Anglo-American modern poetry of the 20th century and the French Symbolist poetry of the 19th century. You will be able to distinguish the avant-garde poetic experiments of three of the best known poets of this movement: Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, and Stéphane Mallarmé. You will also be able to recognize how those experiments became the fountainhead of modernism.**

Unit 2 Time Advisory
Completing this unit should take you approximately 5.5 hours.

☐    Subunit 2.1: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 2.2: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 2.3: 2.5 hours

Unit2 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you should be able to: - define French Symbolism of the late 19th century; - analyze some examples of symbolist poems and poets through close reading; and - identify some of the major features of French Symbolist poetry that carry-over into the modernist poetry at the beginning of the 20th century.

2.1 Concepts of Truth and Elements of Mystery in French Symbolist Poetry   - Reading: Poets.org: The Academy of American Poets’ “A Brief Guide to the Symbolists” Link: Poets.org: The Academy of American Poets’ “A Brief Guide to the Symbolists” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read this introduction to the French Symbolists.
Then, follow the links in the left column under “Related Authors” to
read the full entries about Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, and
Stéphane Mallarmé.  
    
 As you read, consider the following study questions: What were the
most important characteristics of French Symbolism? How did
Baudelaire, Rimbaud, and Mallarmé contribute to symbolist poetics?
What connections do you see between each of their lives and their
literary experiments?   

 Reading these sections and answering the questions above should
take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

2.2 Charles Baudelaire, Father of Modern Poetry   - Reading: Poem Hunter: Charles Baudelaire’s “Correspondences,” “Invitation to a Voyage,” and “Cats” Link: Poem Hunter: Charles Baudelaire’s “Correspondences” (HTML), “Invitation to a Voyage” (HTML), and “Cats” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read Baudelaire’s poems, “Correspondences” and
“Invitation to a Voyage,” as well as all of the provided
translations of “Cats.”  
    
 As you read the poems, consider the following study questions and
writing prompt: What are the most important stylistic and
imagery-related differences between “Correspondences” and
“Invitation to a Voyage”? Why are the translations of “Cats”
different from one another? Why is Symbolist poetry particularly
difficult to translate? When you compare Baudelaire’s poems with the
Victorian poems you studied in Unit 1, what are the most important
differences? Do you perceive any similarities? Take a moment to
write down a paragraph in which you summarize your analysis, and
consider posting this to the [ENGL408 Course Discussion
Board](http://forums.saylor.org/forum/english/ENGL408/).  

 Studying these poems, answering the questions above, and completing
the writing activity should take approximately 1 hour and 30
minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyrights and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.

2.3 Arthur Rimbaud, Stéphane Mallarmé, and the French Symbolists   - Reading: Black Cat Poems: Arthur Rimbaud’s “Dawn,” “Departure,” “Eternity,” and “Sleep” Link: Black Cat Poems: Arthur Rimbaud’s “Dawn” (HTML), “Departure” (HTML), “Eternity” (HTML), and “Sleep” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read all four poems: “Dawn,” “Departure,” “Eternity,”
and “Sleep.” Note that a literary *symbol* is something, such as an
object, picture, written word, or sound, which represents something
else by association, resemblance, or convention. Recall from “A
Brief Guide to Symbolists” in subunit 2.1: “The ‘symbols’ for which
they are named are emblems of the actual world – as opposed to the
purely emotional world which dominates their work – that accumulate
supernatural significance in the absence of a clear narrative or
location.”  
    
 As you read these poems, consider the ways in which Rimbaud use
symbols and/or symbolic language to engage his readers. Identify the
symbols used by Rimbaud, and write down all of associations that
they elicit in your mind.  

 Studying these poems and completing the activity described above
should take approximately 2 hours.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyrights and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.
  • Reading: Angelfire: Stéphane Mallarmé’s “Afternoon of a Faun” Link: Angelfire: Stéphane Mallarmé’s “Afternoon of a Faun” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read Mallarmé’s poem, “Afternoon of a Faun.”
     
    As you read, consider the symbols and/or symbolic language that Mallarmé used to engage his readers. Identify the symbols used by Mallarmé, and write down all of the associations that they elicit in your mind.
     
    Reading this poem and completing the activity described above should take approximately 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

Unit 2 Assessment   - Assessment: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 2 Assessment” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 2 Assessment” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Consider the essay prompts for this assessment, and craft an essay founded on your readings from this unit. After writing your essay, use the “Rubric for Effectively Written College-Level Essays” (PDF) to self-evaluate your writing.
 
Tips and Suggestions: If you have an ePortfolio account, then it may be beneficial to upload or link to your essay from the Work Samples section of your profile. In combination with the Study Groups function or the ENGL408 Discussion Forum, using your ePortfolio profile may be a good way to receive peer feedback on your written work. If you do not yet have an ePortfolio account, you can create one here, free of charge.
 
Completing this assessment should take approximately 3 hours.