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MODERNIST POETRY Robert Frost, W.

C Williams, Wallace Stevens and Marianne Moore

Historical background 1920-1940 Modernist Poets. These poets were induced to believe that American poetry was inferior to the European tradition. They explored the native sources of the American land. There are some African American poets like Langgton Hughes and Sterling Brown that wrote in the African American language and had a strong relationship with Jazz music. They wrote for a mass audience in opposition to the elitist previous model. American readers however were not ready for this new kind of poetry and these poets were not popular. Frost and Cummings were more expressive and accessible. Frost: farmer poet of New England. He borrowed from England traditional poets... Most of the Modern American poets lived in cities. They expanded the borders of American poetry and enlarged the list of topics considered appropriate for poetry: comedy, political satire, philosophical issues... Modern poetry is characterised for new techniques. T.S. Elliot and E. Pound bought free verse to American poetry. Fragmentation is one of the major characteristic of Modernist poetry. Poets took the technique of collage from Modernist art and montage from films. For most of these poets, the world they were living in was fragmented as well. They were characterised for a strong scepticism. Annihilation of God; a world with no God, no guides, which is being dissolved. Robert Frost: Born in 1874 (1963). The poet of New England. At 10 he moved with his mother and sister to rural Massachusetts (NE). He was a farmer and sometimes a teacher. He did not take part in theoretical discussion about Modernist poetry. In some aspects his poetry is more traditional in the use of forms in opposition to formal dislocations used by Modernists to challenge traditional forms of poetry. He

writes about ordinary things; simplicity in his language, clean and appealing. For some academics this indicates that he was always suspicious of philosophical ideas in poerty. Colloquial style, actual speech (words), his voice is also very colloquial. He brought this new voice into American poetry. This simplicity hides remarkable complexity. Poetry that general public like. Pastoral poetry tradition. He talks about individuals and nature, how the individual finds consolation and distraction in nature. He had a pessimistic conception of nature, especially of human nature, he did not believe in the existence of a benevolent God, may be due to several disasters in his life. His first child died in childhood, his daughter was mentally ill, one of his sons committed suicide and another one died in childbirth. At 38 he went to England and published his first book in 1913. No one wanted to publish his work in America. In 1915 he returned home. After Apple-Picking: Issues: long life of an exhausted farm worker. The word fall is repeated at least three times in the poem; in lines 13, 15 and 30. Fallthe FallAutumn , la cosecha de la manzana. Reality is being filtered through a glass. Sleep appears six times; he feels that death is approaching. Apples: in western culture the apples represents knowledge. It is the fruit of the tree of knowledge. From innocence to experience; experience that makes you free, radical innocence is like being in prison. The fall from paradise meant a punishment; humans will have to work hard until the end of their days. The fall from Grace. Morally closely related to Adam and Eves story. The results from effort fulfil your life. The idea of being ready for death appears also in Shakespeares King Lear. Structurally speaking the poems presents a clear form: Beginning, vertically, religious aspirations, heaven, unfulfilled promises, heaven is never achieved, there is no salvation. End, horizontality, sleep, death. Mowing: To stick to the truth; it was no dream, no fantasy. Pastoral literature: innocence?

The fact is the sweetest dream Dream equals reality, it is not fantasy or illusion, it is the authentic idea. Mowing: emphasis on sexual activity (orchises, snake...) Sexually destroying innocence. The lack of sound; whispering. Line 13: definition of poetry. Figurative or real whispering? The Road Not Taken: This image is a universal truth. 4th stanza: a sight release or nostalgia? Brave adventurous original people take the less travelled by, the other path is the safe one. Theres internal contradiction in the first stanzas; he says that theres no difference between both. The poem is an ironic description of the speaker of the poem. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening: The theme of the poem is...... He would like to stay in the woods but he tries to convince himself that thats not a good idea. If the sleeps in the snow he will die, so he has to leave. Opposition between stopping and going, the speaker emphasises at the end. (Lines 15-16) The wood transmit tranquillity and quietness. He tries to avoid complications, he wants to leave that darkness and resist the temptation to stop by the calm woods. He feels and awkward attraction to the woods. Line 13: the woods are lovely and dark; theres internal complexity and contradiction. The depth of the darkness topic typically Romantic. Promises are responsibilities, obligations to a moral code. Theyre hard to keep. The woods offer liberation from these obligations that is the reason why he surrendered the temptation to rest in the woods. This poem could be read as a resistance to the temptation of committing suicide. The horse seems to represent common sense. Dessert Places: The woods are attracting (inviting) however here, the desert places. Nothingness: it is even scarier than loneliness (2nd stanza) absent-spirited. Line 13: it makes reference to French writer Pascal who made reference to empty spaces.

Line 16: loss of identity; theres nothing inside, theres no self. He compares his own emptiness with the emptiness of the stars; he is giving a cosmic dimension of the emptiness. The only way to accept this is to become aware of it. The speaker here, does not stop, he keeps going, theres no tension between these two opposed movements, the speaker is fixed, he stays, theres no movement or evolution like in slopping, when he goes from one idea o another. In this one he sticks to the same idea from the very beginning. Scientific discoveries influenced the people of this time. The immensity of the space made human beings feel very insignificant. The speaker is not scared of this but of his own empty spaces, his emptiness and nothingness. W. Carlos Williams Poet of the technological age; he started writing poetry around 1915 but he was relatively unknown before the 1940s. He was a family doctor. He wrote poems famous for its formal innovation. He decided to reject the old world spirit. His mother was form Puerto Rico and his father was English. They were very cultured people; he inherited taste for European culture and painting, which influenced his writing. He studied at the University of Pennsylvania. This are in New Jersey, urban and semi-urban gave him material for his writings. He kept in touch with another artists and writer of New York. He was keen to the tendencies of the modernists. He moves towards spontaneous, authentic American language, as close as possible to typical American speech. He had an especial appeal for the physical imagination. The poems are built on concrete images; he was proud on this ability of his: ability to drawn with the sudden realisation of things other could not perceive. 1920s was a prolific period for experimenting with form and speaking, he was searching for his own voice. The Young Housewife: The speaker is observing a housewife and enjoying his situation of power. She is compared to a fallen leaf separated from the rest of the tree. <in the end the dry leaf is cashed by the speakers car.

The housewife is trapped within the walls of a house which isnt even hers, its her husbands. In the second stanza it seems like she has more freedom. She seems to be liberated but vulnerable, unprotected. Its significative the appearance of the word uncorseted between commas. In the end the dry leaves announce the destiny of this woman. This poem is a complaint about the situation of many American housewives that were trapped and confined within the solitude of the house. Tragic failure of people trying to communicate to each other; both, the speaker and the housewife represent loneliness