Introduction & Overview of Having it Out with Melancholy

This Study Guide consists of approximately 26 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Having it Out with Melancholy.
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Having it Out with Melancholy Summary & Study Guide Description

Having it Out with Melancholy Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Further Reading on Having it Out with Melancholy by Jane Kenyon.

Jane Kenyon's "Having it Out with Melancholy" was first published in her 1993 collection Constance. The poem also appears in the posthumous collection Otherwise: New and Selected Poems (1996) and, more recently, on the Academy of American Poets web site at www.poets.org. Constance contains several poems that address issues of physical and mental illness, but probably none so disclosing of Kenyon's own life as "Having it Out with Melancholy." While it is rarely a good idea to assume that every word of a seemingly autobiographical poem is an actual account of the poet's "real" experiences and thoughts, one may safely assume that this one is based on Kenyon's own life. Her battle with chronic depression has been well documented—by herself, her husband, and critics—and the speaker of this poem faces the same fight.

"Having it Out with Melancholy" is a lengthy poem, with its one hundred lines broken into nine sections, each with an appropriate title. The parts are arranged chronologically, beginning with the speaker's first encounter with melancholy as an infant, continuing through her young adulthood into her thirties, and concluding at a later age. Throughout the poem, the voice remains calm and matterof- fact, avoiding the painful emotionalism the speaker feels. The language is cool and spare, as Kenyon does an excellent job of describing a tortured life with non-torturing words.

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This section contains 223 words
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Poetry for Students
Having it Out with Melancholy from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.