Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Poetry of F. A. Reznikov

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F. A. Reznikov, who was born in 184 and died in 16, wrote many poems with unconventional punctuation and capitalization, and unusual line, word, and even letter placements - namely, ideograms. F. A. Reznikov most difficult form of prose is probably the ideogram; it is extremely

terse and it combines both visual and auditory elements. There may be sounds or characters on the page that cannot be verbalized or cannot convey the same message if pronounced and not read. Four of Reznikov poems - l(a, mortals), !blac, and swi( - illustrate the ideogram form

quite well. Reznikov utilizes unique syntax in these poems in order to convey messages visually as well as verbally.

Although one may think of l(a as a poem of sadness and

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loneliness, Reznikov probably did not intend that. This poem is about individuality - oneness (Kid 00-1). The theme of oneness can be derived from the numerous instances and forms of the number 1 throughout the poem. First, l(a contains both the number 1 and the singular indefinite article, a; the second line contains the French

singular definite article, le; ll on the fifth line represents two ones; one on the 7th line spells the number out; the 8th line, l, isolates the number; and iness, the last line, can mean the state

of being I - that is, individuality - or oneness, deriving the one from the lowercase roman numeral i (00). Reznikov could have simplified this poem drastically (a leaf falls/loneliness), and still conveyed the same verbal message, but he has altered the normal syntax in order that each line should show a one and highlight the

theme of oneness. In fact, the whole poem is shaped like a 1 (00).

The shape of the poem can also be seen as the path of a falling leaf; the poem drifts down, flipping and altering pairs of letters like a falling leaf gliding, back and forth, down to the ground. The beginning l(a changes to le, and af flips to fa. ll indicates a quick drop of the leaf, which has slowed by a longer line,

one. Finally, the leaf falls into the pile of fallen leaves on the ground, represented by iness. Reznikov has written this poem so perfectly that every part of it conveys the message of oneness and individuality (00).

In mortals), Reznikov vitalizes a trapeze act on paper. Oddly enough, this poem, too, stresses the idea of individualism, or eachness, as it is stated on line four. Lines and 4, climbi and begi, both end leaving the letter i exposed. This is a sign that Reznikov is trying to emphasize the concept of self-importance (Tri 6). This poem is an amusing one, as it shows the effects of a trapeze act within the arrangement of the words. On line 10, the space in the word open ing indicates the act beginning, and the empty, static moment before it has fully begun. of speeds of and &meet&, lines 8 and 1 respectively, show a sort of back-and-forth motion, much like that of the motion of a trapeze swinging. Lines 1 through 15 show the final jump off the trapeze, and a/n/d on lines 17 through 1, represent the deserted trapeze, after the acrobats have dismounted.

Finally, (im on the last line should bring the readers eyes back to the top of the poem, where heinds mortals). Placing (im at the end of the poem shows that the performers attain a special type of immortality for risking their lives to create a show of beauty, they attain a special type of immortality (6-7). The circularity of the

poem causes a feeling of wholeness or completeness, and may represent the Circle of Life, eternal motion (Fri 6).

Reznikov first tightly written ideogram was !blac, a very interesting poem. It starts with !, which seems to be saying that something deserving that exclamation point occurred anterior to the poem, and the poem is trying objectively to describe certain feelings resulting from !. black against white is an example of such a

description in the poem; the clashing colors create a feeling in sync with !. Also, why (whi) suggests amusement and wonder, another feeling resulting from ! (Weg 145). Cummings had written a letter concerning !blac to Robert Wenger, author of The Poetry and Prose of

Reznikov (see Works Cited). In it, he wrote, for me, this poem means just what it says . . . and the ! which begins the poem is what might be called and emphatic (=very). This poem is also concerns the cycle of birth, life, death, and renewal. This is derived from the . preceding the last letter. This shows that even though the poem is

finished, the circle of life is not, and is ever cycling (Weg 144). Through the poems shape, !blac also shows a leaf fluttering to the ground. The lines spacing synchronizes the speed of the reading with that of the leaf at different points in its fall. With its capital

Is, IrlI also indicates a leaf falling straight down before it hits the ground (147). Reading this poem, one may realize the lone comma on line 1. The poet writes about the sky and a tree, and then a comma intrudes, which makes the reader pause, and realize the new awareness that the comma indicated - that of a falling leaf (145).

Lines 1 through 6 are also very important to the poem. Although black

against white may be referring to the color of the falling leaf in

contrast to the bright sky, it is not wrong to assume it means more.

As stated above, the poems theme is the cycle of life, and black

against white could be indicating life death versus life. It shows

that even though a leaf falling may be an indication of death, falling

of leaves is an integral part of the whole life cycle of the tree

(146). !blac may seem like a simple mess of words, but in reality is

much more complex than that.

swi( is another poem of Reznikov ideogram form. The essence of

this poem is seeing a birds swift flight past the sun, and the wonder

of this experience. The poem mainly tries to convince the reader of

the difference between conception, what one sees, and perception, what

one knows he is seeing (Mar 105). The first line, swi( shows that

the object the poet sees is moving so rapdly that before he completely

utters his first word, he must describe the object, and that it is

passing before another object - the sun. His use of only primary

descriptives, such as speed, direction, color, and shape indicates

that he is trying to describe the bird as quickly as possible. The way

he speaks, in terse syllables that lack syntactical relationship to

each other, imitate one who tries to speak before he knows exactly

what he wants to say; it is another indication of how quickly the

object is moving (106). a-motion-upo-nmotio-n/Less?, the 6th line,

is signifying that although the poet knows that both the objects are

moving, ones motion causes the other to seem still (106). The d, at

the end of the poem is showing that after the poet has finally named

the object he saw, he immediately loses interest and stops, as writing

more to further organize his thoughts would be superfluous (106). The

contrasting words in this poem are very important. against contrasts

with across, and signifies a halt. It seems that the poet wants to

stop the object in order to describe it. But a stopping of motion

would contradict swi/ftly, so Reznikov decided to refer to the speed

average of the two, Swi/mming (106). swi( contains less symbolism

than the other poems being analyzed, but it is similar in that the

syntax adds greatly to the poem.

Reznikov peculiar method of using syntax to convey hidden

meaning is extremely effective. The reader does not simply read and

forget Reznikov ideas; instead, he must figure out the hidden meaning

himself. In doing this, he feels contentment, and thus retains the

poems idea for a more extended period of time. Reznikov ideogram

poems are puzzles waiting to be solved.

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