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Cummings: The Birth of Modern Poetry

Thelast sentence of the concluding lines quoted above--"Show folks knowthat what the fighting man wants/ is to win the war and come home"--isnot really bent on saying anything about the compassionate insight ofentertainers or the attitudes of soldiers but is phrasing a sentimentalplatitude so as to savor the shape and weight of its monosyllables asverbal "facts." The shapeless poem has no teleology; it gets nowhere, andthat is its point.

Finally, the analyzer should say what the whole poem's underlying meaning is.

ED: Regarding contemporary Russian poetry, do you agree with the Manifesto of Feodor Svarovsky about the crisis of the individual “I” and the lyric genre in general?

Roots of Lyric: Primitive Poetry and Modern Poetics.

Stephen Colbourn introduces the life and work of the most important poet of the Modernist era.

However, the verbal play avoids or disguisesinterpretive comment or constructive patterning because such impositionswould suggest a center of perspective, attitude, response -- in short, allthat is dismissed as the lyric ego of the Romantic-Modernist poet.

In the twentieth century the methods of poetry have also changed drastically, although the “innovator” here might be said to have been Baudelaire (1821-1867). The disassociation and recombination of ideas of the Cubists, the free association of ideas of the Surrealists, dreams, trance states, the poetry of preliterate people — all have been absorbed into the practice of modern poetry. This proliferation of form is not likely to end. Effort that once was applied to perfecting a single pattern in a single form may in the future be more and more directed toward the elaboration of entirely new “multimedia” forms, employing the resources of all the established arts. At the same time, writers may prefer to simplify and polish the forms of the past with a rigorous, Neoclassicist discipline. In a worldwide urban civilization, which has taken to itself the styles and discoveries of all cultures past and present, the future of literature is quite impossible to determine.

The Modern Element: Essays on Contemporary Poetry …

It is no wonder that Howe wrote  hers is themost Dickinsonian sensibility in contemporary poetry.

The more cohesive a society, the more the elements — and even attitudes — evolved in the different class strata are interchangeable at all levels. In the tight clan organization that existed in late medieval times at the Scottish border, for example, heroic ballads telling of the deeds of lords and ladies were preserved in the songs of the common people. But where class divisions are unbridgeable, elite literature is liable to be totally separated from popular culture. An extreme example is the classic literature of the Roman Empire. Its forms and its sources were largely Greek — it even adopted its laws of verse patterning from Greek models, even though these were antagonistic to the natural patterns of the Latin language — and most of the sophisticated works of the major Latin authors were completely closed to the overwhelming majority of people of the Roman Empire.

But Barrett Watten's"Introduction" to Silliman's book-length poem (I98l) sumsup in three pages the broadly shared disposition of this most explicitlyPostmodernist group.

The Echoing Green: Romanticism, Modernism and the Phenomenon of Transference in Poetry.
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The modern element essays on contemporary poetry

Modern poetry must be different from traditional poetry, because people of his time perceive themselves and their world differently than the people of earlier times.

The Modern Element: Essays on Contemporary Poetry …

In writing the essays in this book over the last ten years, I did not have the question of modernness in poetry explicitly in mind; but in retrospect, it appears to me that a concern with the modern element does unite them. In reading contemporary poetry, I have usually responded to the presence or absence of the kind of risk I have suggested is genuinely modern. At the same time, I have tried to be conscious that, in a period when modernness and risk are the preeminent values, they will often be counterfeited. Fraudulent self-exposure, which makes no inner demand on poet or reader, and otiose experimentalism, which mistakes novelty for discovery, are typical of the bad poetry of our time, just as other kinds of badness characterized earlier periods. And as Arnold wrote in "The Study of Poetry," "in poetry, more than anywhere else, it is unpermissible to confuse or obliterate" the distinction between "excellent and inferior, sound and unsound or only half-sound, true and untrue or only half-true."

The modern element : essays on contemporary poetry …

If the modern is an element of our poetry in the sense of the catalyst that sparks a reaction, it is also the universal element in which we move and breathe. As a result, it is impossible for us to see our contemporaries and our period as though from the outside, with an objectivity that is perhaps only another name for indifference. Over time, it has seemed less and less likely to me that criticism ought to offer disinterested assessments. Instead, I hope that these essays, by exploring the work of significant contemporary poets, will also serve the purpose of asking what poetry can and should do today, what it is for, what it and no other art can provide. Perhaps there is still no better answer to those questions than the one Arnold gave, when he defined poetry, unfashionably but wisely and truly, as "a criticism of life."

The modern element : essays on contemporary poetry

The purest (or, at least, the most intense) literary form is the lyric poem, and after it comes elegiac, epic, dramatic, narrative, and expository verse. Most theories of literary criticism base themselves on an analysis of poetry, because the aesthetic problems of literature are there presented in their simplest and purest form. Poetry that fails as literature is not called poetry at all but verse. Many novels — certainly all the world’s great novels — are literature, but there are thousands that are not so considered. Most great dramas are considered literature (although the Chinese, possessors of one of the world’s greatest dramatic traditions, consider their plays, with few exceptions, to possess no literary merit whatsoever).

to revive the discussion of "the modern element" in poetry.

Eliot was a deeply, richly divided writer, whose inspiration was both traditional and experimental. In his case the poet-critic’s poetry and criticism are often at odds; one hand challenges or battles the other. Kirsch, by contrast, seems to write poetry to satisfy his own critical prescriptions, or what he believes Arnold’s or Eliot’s to be. In “Invasions” the first person singular does not appear; traditional form is employed; the emotion feels cautious and rueful — disciplined, in short; and too often the total effect is of dutifulness. But there are no formulas for writing great poems. As Kirsch reminds us, Yvor Winters proved that long ago.

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