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Monday, December 27, 2010

Trends in Modern 20th Century Poetry
Introduction: After 1900 the English scene becomes terribly chaotic. In the field of poetry-as also in other fields of literature-we find a tremendous activity. Thousands of poems are written, and thousands published, every day. The sales are indeed limited, but almost every poet, however "minor-" does find some audience. The chaos in the field of poetry is due to the fact that in modern times no 1 iterary tradition is respected aF all, and, on the contrary, all emphasis is made to fall on individualism, for whatever it may be worth. When every man navigates his poetic craft by the light of his own individuality and his personal sense of direction, the voyage becomes adventurous and therefore, interesting; but ship-wrecks are many. That is why in the modern age we are familiar all too well with the jetsam and flotsam of literature. The Decline: Tradition and Innovation : Many have sincerely felt that in the twentieth century no great poetry was written and none is being written now. As a critic has put it, there have been many poetic persons in the twentieth century, but no poets. It is said that as civilisation advances poetry declines. Poetry indeed has declined, though it is somewhat debatable if civilisation has advanced. At the beginning of the new century at least, there was no poet of any stature. Thus A. C. Ward in Twentieth Century Literature avers: "When the twentieth century opened Tennyson had been dead nine years, and there was a widespread impression that English poetry had died with him.” He further says: "The poetry of the period shows a general decline, not in general level of execution but in genius and breadth of range." But, he admits finally: "There has been no dearth of great poets or great poems that will stand the test of time and become a part of the imperishable literary heritage of England." As in modern painting, we find a lot of experimentation and innovation in modern poetry. Most of the poets have broken away from tradition completely, as they feel that poetry should change with the changing times. Many movements, schools, and groups have appeared and disappeared over the years. Imagism, Surrealism, and the so called "Apocalypse" school have had their day. Some poets, mostly belonging to the early years of the century, remained, on the other hand, sticking to the traditions of Tennyson, Browning, Arnold, etc. Among these poets may be mentioned Robert Bridges, William Watson, and sir Henry Newbolt. Still many more combined tradition with innovation: A. E. Housman, for instance, poured his most withering and oppressive pessimism (which appears to be "modern") into the mould of the ballad-one of the oldest of literary forms. Even T. S. Eliot-who with Hulme, Hopkins, and Ezra Pound has been a tremendous shaping influence on modern poetry-looks too often to Donne and the fellow metaphysicals. Thus, in a word, even innovators are influenced, little or much, by the poets before them. Modern Themes: Modern poetry exercises a great freedom in the choice of themes. Gone are days when it was believed that the job of the poet was only to create "beauty." T. S. Eliot offers a representative view: "The essential advantage of a poet is not to have a beautiful world with which to deal: it is to be able to see beneath both beauty and ugliness: to see the boredom and the horror and the glory." He is free to write poems on themes ranging from kings to cabbages and from the cosmos to a pin's head. Some poems have been written on pretty unpromising subjects which are peculiar to our machine age. Consider, for instance, such poems as Richard Aldington's Machine Guns, Kenneth Ashley's Goods Train at Night, Sheila Smith's The Ballad of a Motor Bus, and Sir Edmund Gosse's The Charcoal Burner.: Unflinching Realism: This thematic revolution is indicative of the unflinching realism of the poets of the .twentieth century. Pastoralism, romanticism and suchlike tendencies are things of the irretrievable past. Gone are the days of piping shepherds "piping down the valleys green", the knights cantering on moonlit heaths, and damsels with dulcimers. As Ronald Bottrall wistfully observes, Nightingales, sunset or the meanest flower Were formerly the potentialities of poetry, But now what have they to do with one another, With Dionysus or with me? The searching realism of modern poets often brings them face to face with repulsive facts which would have scandalised a goody-goody Victorian. But our poets handle them most daringly. Prostitution, war, slum-dwellers, and other such "unpoetic" themes find adequate treatment in modern poetry. Our century has witnessed two terrible holocausts in the two global wars. The terror, ugliness, and brutality of war became a major theme in the poetry of "the war poets" like Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen who themselves fought as soldiers. Bitter satire permeates the former's poems like "CounterAttack" ("set out to present in brutal verse the realities of war without gloss or evasion") and "Suicide in Trenches." In the latter he refers to the suicide of a young soldier: In winter trenches, cowed and glum, With cramps and lice and lack of rum

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Among these poets may be mentioned Walter de la Mare. Yeats. daily bread-Bread of life and bread of labour Bread of bitterness and bread of sorrow Hand-to-mouth and no tomorrow Death for housemate. IELTS. Eliot was quite religious but his attitude towaras life as we find itjn such poems as The Waste Land and 7he HoUowMen.Trends in Modern 20th Century Poetry | Learn English. No one spoke of him again. is far from optimistic. "God's in his heaven" type of optimism is a thing of the past. Some war poets. and Mrs. some modern English poets have gone over to the side of radical socialism. Still. EFL. Pessimism: The two wars and impending danger of a third (and perhaps the last) have cast a gloomy shadow on much of the poetry of the twentieth century Well has the modern age been called "the age of anxiety." Others have also freely tilted against the traditional romanticism. and Masefield also voiced their indignation against social repressfon. In Gibson's ".. The" realisation-of human suffering spurs them to align them selves with the suffering. Galsworthy in "Stupidity Street" strikes a note of sympathy for even birds: I saw with open eyes Singing-birds sweet Sold in the shops For people to eat Sold in the shops Of Stupidity Street In their solicitousness for the working classes. With cramps and lice and lack of rum He put a bullet through his brain. Huxley. S. Alas! Our dried voices when We whisper together Are quiet and meaningless As wind in dry grass. Housman refers to the Supreme Power in this most blasphemous phrase: "Whatever brute or blackguard made the world. a few modern poets manifest unmistakable romantic tendencies. such as Rupert Brooke. T. The pessimism of twentieth-century poets is-not of the nature-of the somewhat stylised melancholy of Shelley or what David Daiches describes as "the Tennysonian elegiac mode with its lingering enjoyment of self-pity.t consider that a poem is a poem unless it is moaning or whining about something or other. asserted in his essay "Romanticism and Classicism" in the few Age: "I object to the sloppiness which doesn. Masefield in "consecration" thus unveils the stark realities of life: Others may sing of wine and wealth and the mirth. Even in the Victorian age there were poets like Thomson.." It is more intellectual and more impersonal. Eliot.. Humanitarianism: This pessimistic realisation of sad realities of Ij'fe is partly responsible for the note of fellow-feeling and humanitarFanism which is to be heard in the work of some modern poets.." In spite of our material prosperity we are full of tensions and anxieties which are almost an inseparable feature of modern living.blogspot. Hardy." Hardy in his greatest work The Dynasts also expresses his disbelief in God and his concept of determinism.The twentieth-century poets like Galsworthy. B. Mine be the dirt and the dross. Hulm'e. John Masefield. death for neighbour. scorn all romanticism-even the subdued kind of romanticism as in Tennyson. Sneak home and pray you 'II never know The hell where youth and laughter go. seem to have loved war as a test of their valiance and patriotism.Farm Holiday" we notice the grim struggle for existence waged endlessly by workers living from hand to mouth: All life moving to one measure: Daily bread. To quote a few lines from the latter: We are the hollow men We are the stuffed men Leaning together Headpiece filled with straw. and T. Yeats's imagery is often redolent ofmythical splendour. Browning who demanded justice for the down-trodderw. James Elroy Flecker. Add to them the disappearance of religious faith. This note can be heard in the poetry of many major poets like the dust and scum of . a major influence on'Eliot and others. http://neoenglishsystem. W. Huxley was manifestly and professedly an agnostic. and even communism. The portly presence of potentates goodly in girth. natural in our poetry. and they treated it in their poetry accordingly.ESL P.. A note of disillusionment and i autumnal gloom is. as we have said earlier. and Edward Thomas. the earth. Hood. S. then. however. Gibson. Flecker in his poetic drama Hassan tries to evoke the Oriental splendour-though "in a style stripped of 2 of 4 2/26/2012 12:31 PM . Romantic Tendency: Such prosaic social concern is basically inimical to all romantic tendency Most modern poets.

using. W. we have something religious now and then. C. Ralph Hodgson's The Song of Honour is a notable poem pulsating with religious feelings. EFL. yet as Daiches puts it. Amy Lowell. Religion and Mysticism: Religion and mysticism also find a place in the work of some poets of the twentieth century. The publication of Hopkins's work in 1918 was also a force in the new direction.abrupt contrasts and shifting counter-suggestion to help to unfold the meaning. Davies poetry has the feature of childlike curiosity in the natural objects everybody finds around himself. as Grierson and Smith put it. Doughty. "In the face of modern industrialism. Moody and Lovett observe: "The Imagists defined poetry as the presentation of a visual situation in the fewest possible concrete words. IELTS.Trends in Modern 20th Century Poetry | Learn English.." Ezra Pound. Visual images before they were matured by intellect were sought to be expressed by them without any respect for conventional phraseology. In the poetry of the Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins." Such poets as Masefield. are quite delightful-especially to children. Davies. and it remains a watershed in both English and American literary history. terrible. Even in the poetry of such poets as Yeats there are mystical strains. eliminating all conjunctive phrases or overt statements that might indicate the relation of one scene or situation to another. As an instance of the Imagist poetry consider the following lines from Hilda Doolittle's "Garden" : O wind. The name of Mrs. on the pattern of symbolic suggestion set up as the poem moves. Eliot's long poem The Waste Land (1922).was the first major example of the new poetry. Diction and Metre: This movement has also revolutionalised the concept of poetic diction and metre. too. but they are. Robert Bridges. and dreadful' But some others* in which the world of nonsense intermingles with the world of Fruit cannot fall into heat That presses up and blunts The point of pears.blogspot. The reaction against the earlier naivete of poetry was initiated by Eliot and Ezra Pound in the second decade of the present century. for example. some of his poems '"where ghosts and demons walk beneath a waning moon. Verse libre (free verse) is the most usual mode of all serious poetry of today. "rhythm freed from the artificial demands of metrical regularity" is still used. As Moody and Lovett point out. seem to have inspired a number of poets in this century. And rounds the grapes. Masefield in "Sea-Fever" expresses a strong desire to run away from the dreary life into "the lonely sea and the sky. Nature fascinates some poets because she offers such a wonderful contrast with the hubbub and ugliness of an industrialised and over-sophisticated age. In the twentieth century many experiments have been made on the technique and diction of poetry. are morbid. To quote Chew.ESL P. Daiches observes: "Complex. "Imagism did modern poetry a tremendous service by pointing the way to a renovation of the vocabulary of poetry and the necessity of ridding poetic technique of vague and empty verbiage and dishonest and windy generalities." Though rhyme has almost completely gone. Many of such 3 of 4 2/26/2012 12:31 PM . "they [modern poets] solace their souls by retiring to the country and celebrating the beauties of unspoiled Nature. lightened of the burden of conventional adjectival padding. E.. Complexity and Psychological Profundity: Complexity and psychological profundity are some other qualities of the more representative poetry of today. "manhandled" English. allusive. Nature: Another "romantic tendency to be found in some modern poets is interest in nature. the most important romantic poet of all is de la Mare who is pre-eminently a poet of childhood and supernaturalism. and Hilda Doolittle-all Americans and Richard Aldington-an Englishman-were the pioneers of Imagism in poetry... all the same. and so on.. Many of the major poets of the century have shown the influence of the Imagist doctrines in their work."' says A. who wrote religious poetry towards the end of the preceding century. A language with the flow and turns of common speech is mostly employed. charmed by her unsophisticated beauty.. depending entirely oh 'the music of ideas'. Fruit cannot drop Through this thick air. Cut apart the heat Rend it to tatters. and even regular metre have been discarded almost completely. http://neoenglishsystem. Ward." However. Traditional "poetic diction" saccharine poeticisms." Edmund Blunden points his finger lovingly at the little-noticed things of nature. poetic drama Hassan tries to evoke the Oriental splendour-though "in a style stripped of romantic excess and a mood purged of romantic subjectivity. Alice Meynell deserves to be mentioned." Form and substance were to be identical. rend open the heat. The American poet Cummings refused to start every line of his poetry with a capital letter. and unhampered by general ideas or philosophical ormoral speculations. Coventry Patmore and Francis Thompson. and Edmund Blunden may not find any mystic significance in mature.

http://neoenglishsystem...ESL P. in Modern 20th Century Poetry | Learn English. IELTS. 4 of 4 2/26/2012 12:31 PM . experiments have been interesting-but interesting only.

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