A Geographical Tour of Literary America

The Grand Tour of Literary Landmarks resulted from my students' success with another project that we called "Poetic License with THE AMAZING RACE." This new journey also begins and ends in my students' hometown. Chosen writers are specific to our curriculum and texts; however, teachers can adapt new selections to their students' needs. Side images are their original work. Photo images at each destination go directly to official sites or to the slideshows of my own travel photos. The main sources of written material here are www.Poets.org and Adventures in American Literature, Heritage Edition and Pegasus Edition.

Glencoe, Illinois

On the literary map, travel from Madison, Wisconsin, to Glencoe, Illinois.


# _____________ Miles to Glencoe, Illinois

$ _____________ Cost for Gasoline to Glencoe, Illinois

Visit Archibald MacLeish at www.Poets.org and fill-in-the-blanks.

"Archibald MacLeish was born in __________, Illinois, on May 7, ________. First educated at Hotchkiss School, MacLeish later studied at Yale and _______ Law School, where he was first in his class. Although he focused his studies on law, he also began writing poetry during this time."

"Throughout his work, MacLeish was interested in the idea of ___________________ through time. Whether his poems stress detached artistic creativity, active involvement, or philosophic thought, they present life as ___________________. However, as his later work insists, the human situation demands that people at least search for _____________ and an understanding of themselves."

Read "The End of the World"

Quite unexpectedly, as Vasserot
The armless ambidextrian was lighting
A match between his great and second toe,
And Ralph the lion was engaged in biting
The neck of Madame Sossman while the drum
Pointed, and Teeny was about to cough
In waltz-time swinging Jocko by the thumb---
Quite unexpectedly the top blew off:

And there, there overhead, there, there hung over
Those thousands of white faces, those dazed eyes,
There in the starless dark the poise, the hover,
There with vast wings across the cancelled skies,
There in the sudden blackness the black pall
Of nothing, nothing, nothing --- nothing at all

What is the oxymoron in line 2?

Why is “there” repeated so often?

What aspects of the circus scene described in the first stanza apply to human life in general?

Why is the circus an appropriate metaphor for life?

A familiar name for a circus tent is “the big top.” What event is suggested by line 8?

What does the audience see when it looks up at “the canceled skies”?

What is the audience’s reaction?

Who might this audience be?