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Abstract

Robert Penn Warren’s later poetry, specifically Rumor Verified and Altitudes and Extensions, deserves closer critical attention to the function served by the American past. Whether it is facing the bloody reality of westward expansion or acknowledging the alienation and dehumanization that results from the Industrial Revolution, Warren’s poems suggest a method of self-reflection that yields a fuller sense of American identity and, consequently, an awareness and knowledge of how to live in this modern world. A close study of the poetic techniques in “Going West” serves as a model for how Warren uses historical backdrops to employ his underlying philosophy that Americans must come to terms with the past in order to develop selfhood.

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