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Modern Poetry History and Characteristics

Ruby writes from the Philippines. She teaches education and communication courses in HEI. Ruby holds an MA in Education.


What is Modern Poetry?

Modern poetry is 20th- and 21st-century poem. It stresses imagery, emotion, and less rhyme. Walt Watchman is a Modernist poet. Eliot wrote excellent poetry. Waste Land is an English classic. Modern poetry is present. Beat Generation poetry exploded in 1950. As the 20th century ended, spoken-word performances and poetry slams emerged. Imagists began modern English poetry in the early 1900s. Modernists read Greek literature. Modern poets write brief lyric poems.

Development of Modern Poetry

Modernism, a significant departure from Victorianism, led to post-modernism, which stressed self-consciousness and pop art. 20th-century literature is different, yet there are common traits that transformed it forever.
Basically, it sprung from 20th-century English poetry. Early 20th-century English poetry came from numerous schools, genres, and influences following these three stages:
Stage 1
The early phase of the movement, imagism, Dome's symbolist style, and war poetry were all expressions of modernism in English poetry (1909-16)
Stage 2
During the 2nd phase of Modernist poetry, between 1917 and 1929, all these initial manifestations of modernism combined to find a full nature expression in the poetry of T.S. Eliot, Edith Sitwell, and later Yeats, most notably Eliot's The Waste Land, Sitwell's Gold Coast Customs, and Yeats's Michael Robartes and the Dances.
Stage 3
The 1930s saw the rise of Marxed (non-Marxist) poets like Auden, Louis McNiece, C. Day-Lewis, and Stephen Spender.

Characteristcis of Modern Poetry

Themes vary

Modern poetry may be about anything. Modern poets are inspired by trains, trams, phones, and other ordinary objects. Modern poets don't believe in big poetic themes.

Modern poets create the cosmos. He writes on real-life topics, such as John Davidson's The Songs Train, Ashley's Goods Train of Night, Richard Aldington's Machine Guns, and Walter Realism's Listeners.
20th-century poetry is realistic. Modern poetry's realism was a response against the past century's pseudo-romanticism, not science.
Modern poets portray life with all its suspense and harshness. They rip the romanticists' curtain between art and existence. Frost, Blunden, and Gibson are contemporary realist poets. The following are some of the common themes in modern poetry.

Modern lyrics focus on love. The Growth of Love contains romantic sonnets by Robert Bridges. I Won't Let Go When You're Old, etc.

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Nature fascinates current poets much like ancient poets. Nature isn't mystical for contemporary poets. Nature has no significance for him. Nature's beauty makes him happy.
His poem depicts birds, clouds, sceneries, sea, and countryside. Modern nature poets include Masefield, Robert Bridges, and Edmund Blunden.

Humanitarian, democratic
Humanitarianism and democracy characterize modern poetry. Modern poets are more concerned in laborers' lives than Wordsworth.
He finds the same promise in their everyday problems that past poets saw in high-ranking persons. Masefield, Gibson, and Goldsworthy focus on the average man's plight.

Modern poetry is pessimistic and disillusioned. The contemporary poet is gloomy and unhappy because of the triviality of human existence and the misery of the impoverished.
Poetry expresses fall feelings. Modern poets of pessimism and disillusionment include Hardy, Huxley, and Eliot.

Despite realism's dominance in contemporary poetry, Yeats, E. Thomas, Masefield, etc. favor romanticism. Romance is as ancient as life in these poets' writings.
Walter De La Mare's poetry borders on supernaturalism. With him, ancient world ghosts and fairies have arrived into the 20th century.

Even in this scientific day, there are poetry about faith and mysticism. W.B. Yeats, Francis Thompson, Robert Graves, etc. kept religion and mysticism alive in their poetry.

Style, diction
Modern poets favor straightforward language. Modern poets employ meter freely. They have somehow abandoned verse. Sensation replaces verse rhythm. In other words, 20th-century English poetry is free-flowing.

Find out more abut Modern or Contemporary Poetry from this video.

Final Thoughts

When baffled about modern poetry, just think about the present, the now, the situation where you and I are in. You also consider the environment where you live, the prevailing thoughts, the values reflected in people's lives which many times pose a challenge to most of us. though you may not like it, but this is the way it is when thinking about the so-called Modern thing. On the other hand, modern poetry can be about anything aside from the prevailing themes mentioned above.

There is one more very important point I want to make. Some authors and writers say that modern poetry is bad or ugly. However, we all are intelligent creatures created by God with a mind to choose. We have the capacity to choose what is right and discard what is evil. So, instead of focusing on the negative aspects of Modern poetry, focus on what is good, useful, and valuable. Finally, you can use this as verse as a guide, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things" (Philippians 4:8, NLT).

© 2022 Ruby Campos

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