Modernist poetry topic 12
Modernist poetry is a mode of writing characterised by two main features: the first is technical innovation through the extensive use of free verse and the second a move away from the Romantic idea of an unproblematic poetic “self” directly addressing an equally unproblematic ideal reader or audience.
The questioning of the self and the exploration of technical innovations in modernist poetry are intimately interconnected. The dislocation of the authorial presence is achieved through the application of such techniques as collage, found poetry, visual poetry, the juxtaposition of apparently unconnected materials and combinations of all of these. These techniques are used not for their own sake but to open up questions in the mind of the reader regarding the nature of the poetic experience. These developments parallel changes in the other arts, especially painting and music, which were taking place concurrently.
Another important feature of much modernist poetry in English is a clear focus on the surface of the poem. Much of this focuses on the literal meaning of the words on the page rather than any metaphorical or symbolic meanings that might be imputed to them. This approach to writing is reflected in Ezra Pound’s advice to young writers (in his 1937 book The ABC of Reading) to “buy a dictionary and learn the meanings of words” and T. S. Eliot’s response when asked the meaning of the line “Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper tree in the cool of the day” from Ash Wednesday (1930): “It means ‘Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper tree in the cool of the day'”, he replied. Also pertinent is William Carlos Williams’s 1944 declaration: “A poem is a small (or large) machine made out of words”.
What Trojan hero did the Romans considered themselves descended from? – Aeneas. What Greek historian described and explained Rome’s rise to power? – Polybius Who were the legendary twin brothers who founded Rome in 753 B.C.? – Romulus and Remus What three things did Polybius consider the main causes of Rome’s greatness? Which Hellenistic philosophy taught that we should strive for “ ...
Transcendentalism was a group of new ideas in literature, religion, culture, and philosophy that emerged in New England in the early to middle 19th century. It is sometimes called American transcendentalism to distinguish it from other uses of the word transcendental. Transcendentalism began as a protest against the general state of culture and society, and in particular, the state of intellectualism at Harvard and the doctrine of the Unitarian church taught at Harvard Divinity School. Among transcendentalists’ core beliefs was an ideal spiritual state that ‘transcends’ the physical and empirical and is only realized through the individual’s intuition, rather than through the doctrines of established religions. Prominent transcendentalists included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Orestes Brownson, William Henry Channing, James Freeman Clarke, Christopher Pearse Cranch, Walt Whitman, Convers Francis, Margaret Fuller, Frederick Henry Hedge, Sylvester Judd, Elizabeth Peabody, George Ripley, Amos Bronson Alcott, Jones Very and A.E. Waite
Ralf Waldo Emerson wrote no fiction and less poetry than many other poets, Ralph Waldo Emerson is perhaps the most important figure in the history of American literature. As a writer of essays and lectures, he was a master stylist, renowned for the clarity and rhythms of his prose. Several of his essays–notably Nature, “Self-Reliance,” and “The American Scholar”–are among the finest in English. Among the principles that Emerson eloquently addressed in these and other works are the individual’s unity with nature, the sanctity of the individual, the need to live in the present, and the role of the poet in society.
Emerson’s chief contribution to American letters, however, came in the form of his enormous influence on other writers and thinkers. In the 1830s, for example, he became a leader of American Transcendentalism–a philosophical, literary, and social movement–and so influenced Margaret Fuller and Henry David Thoreau. Emerson and Transcendentalism even shaped the ideas of non-adherents, such as Herman Melville and Edgar Allan Poe, who defined their own philosophical and aesthetic principles partly by criticizing the Transcendentalists.
Both Emerson and Thoreau use the images of eyes, vision, and perception to properly demonstrate their transcendentalist beliefs. Transcendentalism is defined as the “idea that our spirits have a deep connection with nature and our ideas transcend to the natural world. ” By using the “transparent eyeball” and other uses of perception of the whole in nature in their works, both authors establish a ...
Emerson’s ideas about poetry–perhaps in particular his contention that “it is not metres, but a metre-making argument, that makes a poem” in the essay “The Poet”–also profoundly influenced Walt Whitman. Indeed, Whitman’s preface to Leaves of Grass reiterates many of the same principles expressed in The Poet, including the role of the poet as voice of the people. Like Thoreau, Whitman also owed much of his recognition to Emerson, whose praise of Leaves of Grass–“I greet you at the beginning of a great career. . . . “I find incomparable things said incomparably well.”–Whitman printed on the back of the books.
Finally, Emerson’s insistence that humans live in the present and trust their own impulses helped American writers forge their own identities at a time when European influence was still high and American confidence perhaps was still low. After hearing Emerson deliver address called The American Scholar to the Phi Beta Kappa Society at Harvard in 1837, fellow writer Oliver Wendell Holmes called the speech “our intellectual Declaration of Independence.”
Henry Indeed, it may be the only one of Thoreau’s works familiar to many Americans. Its author, however, produced a number of other notable works, including A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), The Maine Woods (1864), and “Resistance to Civil Government,” also published under the title “Civil Disobedience” (1849), before his death from tuberculosis in 1862.
Along with Emerson, Thoreau was one of the great Transcendentalists and espoused some of the ideas associated with this movement. Works such as “Resistance to Civil Government,” for example, demonstrate the value he placed both on nature and the individual. Perhaps more than Emerson, however, Thoreau was a social activist, particularly in the area of abolition. For this reason, along with his willingness to immerse himself in nature at Walden Pond, we might think of him as “Transcendentalism in Action.” Like Emerson, too, Thoreau was a master prose stylist and wrote a number of sentences that have endured for more than a century. Indeed, along with Emerson, Mark Twain, and Benjamin Franklin, he is one of the most widely quoted American writers.
In 1841 Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote his famous essay “Self-Reliance”. This stated his belief in the importance of being self-reliant and outlined the steps necessary to become independent. Over 250 years later Chris McCandless entered the Alaskan wilderness embodying most of the principles that Emerson highlights. Indeed, Chris is almost a perfect example of Emerson’s self-reliant ...
[Sarah] Margaret Fuller,In 1839 she established formal conversations on various topics, primarily for women, which were very successful for five years. She was close friends with most of the intellectuals of Boston and Concord, particularly Emerson, and would spend weeks at a time visiting in his home, teaching him German and talking. She was evidently a brilliant and thoughtful conversationalist, much respected for her intellect and learning, although friends often had problems dealing with her mercurial emotions. From 1840 to 1842, she served with Emerson as editor of The Dial a literary and philosophical journal for which she wrote many articles and reviews on art and literature. In 1843, The Dial published her essay The Great Lawsuit. Man versus Men, Woman versus Women in which she called for women’s equality.
Characteristics of American romanticism in the first twenty years of the 19th century: reaction against logic and reason; antiscientific in its bent; faith in something inherently good and transcendent in the human spirit in no need of salvation, but rather in need of awakening…”
Washington Irving, The first great American writer of this period was Washington Irving, whose Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, first published in 1819, was a sensation in England and helped build the United States’ reputation for creative literature. Over the remainder of his career, which included Tales of the Alhambra and many other books, Irving was the most famous and most widely respected literary figure in America.
A transitional figure, Irving somewhat ironically contributed to America’s literary independence while producing work that was distinctively European in content and style. Like his contemporary James Fenimore Cooper, Irving proved that Americans could write European literature as well as Europeans could. His masterful use of personae, stylized prose, and use of European legend all demonstrate the strong influence of the Old World on his work. Indeed, the sketches and tales in The Sketch Book show Irving’s affection for the antiquity of Europe and for the past in general. This attention to the past, as Irving scholar William P. Kelly has noted, was one reason for Irving’s success with his American audience. Kelly points out that Americans, recently severed from their European heritage, were struggling with an identity crisis at the time they were reading Irving’s work, which itself looks both forward and backward.
In American Indian Stories, University of Nebraska Press Lincoln and London edition, the author, Zitkala-Sa, tries to tell stories that depicted life growing up on a reservation. Her stories showed how Native Americans reacted to the white man's ways of running the land and changing the life of Indians. "Zitkala-Sa was one of the early Indian writers to record tribal legends and tales from oral ...
Irving is a major figure in the history of the short story in America. Indeed, Fred Lewis Pattee begins his book The Development of the American Short Story with Irving and identifies The Sketch Book, which contains “Rip Van Winkle” and the “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” as the starting point for this literary form in the United States. Pattee notes that the short story suited Irving, who tended to write in “spurts and dashes”: “He did not deliberately choose the shortened form: he fell into it automatically because of his temperament, his natural indolence that forbade long-continued efforts, his powerful yet volatile emotions, and his early literary training in the school of Addison and Goldsmith and Dr. Johnson” (6).
Another striking characteristic of Irving’s writing is the preponderance of visual imagery. A painter himself, Irving often drew verbal pictures in his essays and stories, and the title of his most famous work makes a double reference to visual art: The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon.
Edgar Allan Poe, –author of the “The Raven” and “The Tell-Tale Heart,” vituperative critic, and troubled man–is one of the world’s most famous and controversial writers. For works such as “The Raven,” which has been called the best-known poem in the Western Hemisphere, he has assumed a place among the popular imagination alongside William Shakespeare, Mark Twain, and Thomas Malory, author of the most famous Arthurian romance, Le Morte D’Arthur. Responses to him have been more ambivalent in literary circles, however. French writers, particularly Charles Baudelaire, have hailed Poe as a superior genius, and his British and American admirers include George Bernard Shaw, Robert Frost, Richard Wilbur, and Willa Cather. Somewhat less favorable reactions have come from the American novelist Henry James, who sniped, “An enthusiasm for Poe is the mark of a decidedly primitive stage of reflection” (Clarke 209), and British writer Aldous Huxley, who said: “To the most sensitive and high-souled man in the world we should find it hard to forgive, shall we say, the wearing of a diamond ring on every finger. Poe does the equivalent of this in his poetry; we notice the solecism and shudder”
American literature has a rich history with renowned writers making their contributions to it over the years. Poetry is one of the most used forms of literature in America to put across several messages for the Americans and the world at large. Walt Whitman is one of the celebrated poets who made a considerable contribution in the American literature through his unique approach to issues. Being a ...
Among the general public, Poe is known primarily for his mastery of the Gothic genre. Made popular in the 18th century and early 19th century by British writers such as Horace Walpole and Mary Shelley, Gothic literature has a number of conventions, including evocations of horror, suggestions of the supernatural, and dark, exotic locales such as castles and crumbling mansions. Poe’s short stories “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “Ligeia” are both classic examples of the genre. Poe also has earned a reputation among general readers for his musical poems, such as “Annabel Lee” and “The Bells,” and his fascination with death, particularly the death of women–a subject that has been studied by the biographers Kenneth Silverman and Marie Bonaparte, as well as others. Perhaps Poe’s most enduring contribution to popular culture has been his invention of the detective story. His chief detective, C. Auguste Dupin, and stories such as “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” have inspired countless imitators, most notably Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes.
Poe’s literary criticism, which he produced in great volume as editor of the Southern Literary Messenger and other publications, also has attracted attention from scholars. Indeed, Poe is the only major American writer to excel in poetry, fiction, and criticism. In an era when writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and John Greenleaf Whittier were using literature largely to pursue truth or inculcate morals, Poe argued in “The Poetic Principle” that truth is not the object of literature and condemned what he called “the heresy of The Didactic.” Indeed, a close look at Poe’s work reveals almost no extended attention to contemporary or even universal social issues, such as community, democracy, slavery, and national identity. Instead, he praised the “poem per se–the poem which is a poem and nothing more–this poem written solely for the poem’s sake.” “Beauty,” he wrote in “The Philosophy of Composition,” “is the sole legitimate province of the poem.” In his regard for beauty, “effect,” and form, Poe anticipated the critical principles of many later writers.
American literature has changed and evolved from the early colonial days to develop characteristics that are unique and which identify it from other literary works. Several writers have contributed to the development of American literature. Some of these writers immigrated into the United States and their works were accepted into the American literary canon. Some of the notable foreign born ...
topic 9 Literature: Local Color and Realism
After the Civil War local-color fiction gained widespread popularity in America. Bret Harte acquainted the country with the western miner in stories such as “The Luck of Roaring Camp” (1868) and “The Outcasts of Poker Flats” , while in the late 1870s the Atlanta Constitution began publishing the dialect stories of plantation life in the Deep South that Joel Chandler Harris later collected as Uncle Remus, His Songs and His Sayings (1880).
George Washington Cable wrote of Creoles and the bayou country near New Orleans in popular magazine stories, later collected in Old Creole Days. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Oldtown Folks , a representative portrayal of life in New England. Later New England also figured prominently in the stories of Sarah Orne Jewett and Mary E. Wilkins Freeman. Local-color writers depicted nearly every region of America, lending realism to their stories by describing customs and manners and re-creating dialects. Because these authors usually set their stories in their regions as they remembered them from their own youth, however, they often blended realism with nostalgic sentiment. Many Americans found this mixture appealing, and local-color stories filled the pages of the leading magazines until the end of the nineteenth century.
The first significant poet of the independent United States was William Cullen Bryant , whose great contribution was to write rhapsodic poems on the grandeur of prairies and forests. Other notable poets to emerge in the early and middle 19th century include Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Greenleaf Whittier ,Edgar Allan Poe, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry David Thoreau, James Russell Lowell ,and Sidney Lanier .As might be expected, the works of these writers are united by a common search for a distinctive American voice to distinguish them from their British counterparts. To this end, they explored the landscape and traditions of their native country as materials for their poetry.
The most significant example of this tendency may be The Song of Hiawatha by Longfellow. This poem uses Native American tales collected by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, who was superintendent of Indian affairs for Michigan from 1836 to 1841. Longfellow also imitated the meter of the Finnish epic poem Kalevala, possibly to avoid British models. The resulting poem, while a popular success, did not provide a model for future U.S. poets.
Emily Dickinson:Another factor that distinguished these poets from their British contemporaries was the influence of the transcendentalism of the poet/philosophers Emerson and Thoreau. Transcendentalism was the distinctly American strain of English Romanticism that began with William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Emerson, arguably one of the founders of transcendentalism, had visited England as a young man to meet these two English poets, as well as Thomas Carlyle. While Romanticism transitioned into Victorianism in post-reform England, it grew more energetic in America from the 1830s through to the Civil War.
Edgar Allan Poe was probably the most recognized American poet outside of America during this period. Diverse authors in France, Sweden and Russia were heavily influenced by his works, and his poem “The Raven” swept across Europe, translated into many languages. In the twentieth century the American poet William Carlos Williams said of Poe that he is the only solid ground on which American poetry is anchored.
Walt Whitman:The final emergence of a truly indigenous English-language poetry in the United States was the work of two poets, Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. On the surface, these two poets could not have been less alike. Whitman’s long lines, derived from the metric of the King James Version of the Bible, and his democratic inclusiveness stand in stark contrast with Dickinson’s concentrated phrases and short lines and stanzas, derived from Protestant hymnals.Whitman printed on the second edition of Leaves of Grass), and the daring originality of their visions. These two poets can be said to represent the birth of two major American poetic idioms—the free metric and direct emotional expression of Whitman, and the gnomic obscurity and irony of Dickinson—both of which would profoundly stamp the American poetry of the 20th century.