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Name: Hicham Ali BELLEILI

University Of Boumerdes, Algeria

Department of English

Title of the paper: Music and Modernism in the Poetry of T. S. Eliot and Wallace Stevens

The urge for experimentation to transcend artistic disciplines characterized the
sensibility of a great number of modernist writers. With regard to this situation, the
modernists’ striving against restriction towards freedom, was often seen in relation to other
arts, such as music and painting. In this concern, Ezra Pound called for poets “to compose in
the sequence of the musical phrase, not in sequence of a metronome.” Consequently, a large
number of modernists who formerly strove towards formal experimentation and liberation
invested their efforts to associate their works with ‘the musical phrase.’ T.S Eliot and Wallace
Stevens are among many other modernist poets who display a great interest in involving
music in their poetry. Such a consideration for the musicality of poetry provoked the rise of a
number of musico-literary interpretations. Some critics studied the form of the poems and
their connection to musical forms such as the Sonata, and the Symphony, while other critics
studied the symbolism of music and its thematic significance in either Eliot’s or Stevens’
poetry. While those critics come with a significant contribution to the understanding of the
two poets’ handling of musical material and techniques, little interest has been given to Eliot’s
and Stevens’ divergent attitudes and consideration to the thematic meaning of music in their
poetry. This paper attempts to show that the treatment of music in both Eliot’s and Stevens’
poetry illustrates a significant poetic antagonism. While Eliot’s use of music portrays his
desire to revive past European culture and his commitment to paleo-modernism, Stevens’ use
of musical imagery rather shows his affinities for neo-modernism and his desire to establish a
pure American culture, independent from European tradition.