Confessional Poetry Analysis

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Sandra Gilbert progresses from Rosenthal’s phrase “the private life of the poet” to her own phrase “the personal crisis of the male poet” in order to arrogate Rosenthal’s definition of confessional poetry for her own purposes. “The male confessional poet,” she writes: “even while romantically exploring his own psyche observes himself as a representative specimen with a sort of scientific exactitude . . . . he has a curious calm confidence that even in madness he is in some sense at the intellectual center of things ( 118-119) This ironic and provoking explanation of Rosenthal’s explanation forms the source for the specious distinction Gilbert makes between the sensibility and the “starting points” of male and female poets. She argues: “The detached irony of a Lowell or a Berryman, the irony possible for…show more content…
Jennings recognizes the experience of madness, irreverently tackling the reality in the poem “Madness: “Then this is being mad; there is no more/ Imagining, Ophelias of the mind” (Jennings, TCP 194). In the poem “The Illusion” she admits that “oddly, it’s here,” in the mental institution, that has learned: “with fear and pain/ . . . New honesties and courage that sustain/The power to bear what man has made of things” (194). In this reference the critic Malkoff Karl observes that: “. . . in the end it is the Confessional’s attitude towards madness that most clearly distinguishes him from the poets in whose tradition he writes” (Karl 97). Similarly, Phillips Rober writes: “So predominant is this theme of mental illness in their wok that at least one critic has called the confessional poets, collectively “The Madhouse Muses” (Robert

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