Fanatic Joy Essay

902 Words4 Pages
In Goodbye to Tolerance, Denise Levertov takes an interesting tangent from her normally feminist repertoire in that she includes a group of persons which haven’t anything to do with the problems facing women exclusively. Rather, she mentions a group which could potentially include men, though she treats them as disdainfully1 as she does men in her other poems. Despite this seemingly disdainful attitude, however, Goodbye to Tolerance seems to have more to do with hope than criticism. From a modern perspective, which does not rely exclusively upon Levertovs context, Goodbye to Tolerance can be seen as something of a protest against the ideals of Political Correctness within current American culture. “Tolerance, what crimes / have been committed in your name.” can especially be seen as a criticism against the various social and legal inequalities perpetrated against many races, religions, and sexes under the guise of ‘Political Correctness’. However, as the point of these focus papers seems to be on interpreting the poem within its historical context, I will leave this tangent short. Levertov begins with “Genial poets, pink-faced / earnest wits…”2 This seems to be a criticism against all poets who write “neutral3” things; poets who do not try to choose a side; poets who do not challenge their readers; poets, even, who rely more upon being witty than on actually saying something. The entire stanza, from “Genial” to “name” seems to imply that poets who do these things are making excuses rather than really putting their ideas forward. However, at the second stanza Levertov moves back into familiar territory, seeming to criticize women who are content to live at home and bake bread4 ; to remain blind to the “nightmare reality5” around them. The fourth stanza gives her reasons for the criticism - “Your poems / shut their little mouths / your loaves grow moldy6” .
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