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Courage Essay & Criticism

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Critical Overview

In the last three weeks of January 1973, Sexton wrote all of the poems in The Awful Rowing Toward God, including "Courage." Though many of her friends, including poet James Wright, made unfavorable comments about the manuscript as a whole, Sexton submitted it anyway, and it was accepted for publication. The collection received mostly negative reviews. Reviewing the book for Modern Poetry Studies, Steven Gould Axelrod writes, "These poems resemble episodes of consciousness rather than completed, unified objects."

Axelrod, like many others, argued that the poems "should be seen as psychological jottings and prophetic notes." Sexton's close friend, poet Maxine Kumin, points out that the poems were written in an almost manic phase of Sexton's life and agrees with Axelrod, noting, "There is no psychic distance between the poet and the poem." Critic Kathleen Nichols makes no judgment as to the aesthetic value of the poems; rather, she considers...

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This section contains 265 words
(approx. 1 page at 300 words per page)
Purchase our Courage Study Guide
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Courage from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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