Although most of the pioneering efforts of the early writers till the period of the American Renaissance (1836-1865) was aimed at establishing a neo literary tradition, it was the literature of Modernism (1912-1940) that strove to redefine the established canons and trace new tracks. The literature of the Postwar America (1940-1975) saw a generation of poets as diverse as Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, A R Ammons and Adrienne Rich. Perhaps the new trends that entered this era were marked by an acceptance of ethnicity and a rejection of poetry as a pale English descendant. An increased regional diversity also entered American poetry after World war II. Strong ecological concerns, celebration of the American landscape and critiquing the American society were the other major areas touched upon. Various schools of poetry came up after the war to defy the old and define the new. Of these the 'New York school' was particularly famous. The main poets of this school are John Ashberry (b.1927) and Kenneth Koch (1925-2002). "They turned inward to a spontaneous recording of imaginative moments and wished above all to be amusing, intimate, secular, and colloquial - a contrast with both the political fierceness of Pound and the elegiac solemnity of Eliot1."
A rare exuberance characterizes Koch's poetry. ...
I mean, if you live in a world of politicians and advertising there is obviously a lot of deception. But I am urging the reader in a somewhat over simple way that despite the fact he lived in such a time not to be hardened and spoiled by it2." This joie de vivre is what brings to his poetry unique buoyancy.
'Desire for Spring' is a poem that mocks at our wrong priorities. Privileging nurture over nature, we tend to forget the basics of life. Koch tells us that we do not forget to feed our bones and blood, but we do not care for the heart. Here, 'heart' is more of a symbol than the organ in itself. It is actually a synecdoche for our basic human traits.
Koch asks how one can feed the heart so as not to be 'disheartened'. His desire is to stay afloat even in the midst of tragedies.
I want spring, I want to turn like a mobile
In a new fresh air! I don't want to hibernate
Between walls, between halls! I want to bear
My share of the anguish of being succinctly here!
In a poem called 'To My Heart at the Close of Day', Koch has a related matter to tell his contemporaries.
Your mighty posture
Takes its stand in my chest and swing swing swing
You warm up, then you take a great step
Forward as the ball comes smashing toward you, home
Plate. And suddenly it is evening.
In both the poems Koch expresses the deep pleasures of being alive and the need to be aware of this gift of beingness. But the philosophical acknowledgement of this gift is done with a levity that is characteristically Koch's.
'Down at the Docks' too has the hallmark of most of the poems by Koch: a blending of
man and nature. The poet succinctly integrates human life with the manifold nature. It is
said that language is a net cast over the abundance of nature;