Louis Zukofsky

Louis Zukofsky
His Life ..
Loious Zukofsky was one of the most
important second-generation American
modernist poet. He was co-founder and
primary theorist of the Objectivist group of
poets and was to be an important influence
on subsequent generations of poets in
America and abroad.
He was born in New York of Jewish parents
and grow up speaking Yiddish.
He entered Columbia University at the age of 16
and completed his graduate studies there in
In 1926, Zukofsky wrote "Poem Beginning 'The'"
and sent it to the poet Ezra Pound in Italy.
Pound responded and published it in the Spring
1928 issue of his journal Exile.
In 1928 Zukofsky began "A," a poem projected as
having twenty-four discrete sections, the first
seven of which he composed by 1930.
He also taught English at the University of
Wisconsin in 1930 and 1931.
Zukofsky returned to "A" in 1935, writing
sections 8 through 10 over the course of the
next five years.
In 1947 he became a professor of English at
the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, where
he taught for nearly two decades.
He died in 1978.
Major works..
Zukofsky's early works express a concern with
social oppression and class struggle. For
example, the poem "Mantis" considers the
plight of New York City's poor through a
meditation on the presence of a praying
mantis in the subway.
The theme of "Mantis" is overtly political: the
praying mantis becomes a symbol of the poor,
lost and harried in a harshly mechanical world.
"'Mantis,' an Interpretation," describes the
compositional process of "Mantis."
• Also concerned with the modern political and
historical situation, "Poem Beginning 'The'"
addresses Zukofsky's uncertainty about the
creation of relevant and significant poetry in
the context of twentieth-century economic,
cultural, and military upheaval.
• Here he also examines his identity as an
individual torn between his roots in the rich,
ancient Jewish culture and his presence in
callow, secular western society.
Also , he has another major work which was
the long poem "A" . Zukofsky never referred to
it without the quotation marks .
 Begun in 1927, Zukofsky spent the rest of his
life working on "A," expanding the epic to 24
sections, mirroring the hours of the day.
The poem weaves together politics and family,
traditional forms and free verse, and features
Zukofsky's own father as a major theme.
 The complete version of "A" was finally at the
printers when the poet died in 1978.
"A" is a collage of images, subjects, literary
styles, digressions, allusions, and quoted
literary passages.
The structure of "A" is based on the fugue, a
musical composition interweaving repeated
The first half of "A" is easy to read.
 The second half of the poem is increasingly
hermetic and difficult to understand.
"'A' 1-7 is concerned with the self cut loose
from the family circle and an ancient, cohesive
In 'A' 8-12 the poet examines and creates
connections between past and present,
specifically the relation of himself and his
poem to history and literary tradition.
'A' 13-20 catalogues mixed disasters and good
Finally, in 'A' 21-24 the poem expands to a
comprehensive view of personal, human, and
natural history.
Louis Zukofsky and his
His poems consists largely of conceptual
"objects" that have major implications in
human experience. As such, the objects of this
poem might be as follows:
 Cavalcanti's original poem (and its themes)
human alienation and subservience to
economic structures and value systems;
"virtuous" duplicity; and abstraction itself
Zukofsky embarks on an analysis of human
phenomena, stepping into a realm of
abstraction that has genuine bearing on
human experience. He leans toward an ethical
solution, wherein alienation is struggled
against by sincere application of clear vision
and a guileless mind.
Further, rather than establishing a rhetorical
argument by which a reader can be persuaded,
Zukofsky creates an enactment of the poem's
subject material (an experience of traveling
through the confusions of ideological abstraction)
wherein the "objects" of poems perception carry
associations, history, and contrary meanings that
come into a dynamic sense of play that, rather
than concluding into a neat summary statement,
continue to expand beyond the simplicity of
conventional rhetoric and authorial intent .
Thank You ..
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