The Three Most Important Features of Modern Poetry
The great depth of contemporary poetry is evident in the poems by Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, e. e. cummings, Robinson Jeffers, H. D. (Hilda Doolittle), Robert Graves, W. H. Auden, Archibald MacLeish, Basil Bunting, Robert Lowell, Philip Larkin, Stephen Spender, and others. . The modernity of these poets is revealed by the artist’s failure in a society quite indifferent and callous to poetry. The disillusionment and predicament of a poet was truly described in Pound’s Hugh Selwyn Mauberley: “His true Penelope was Flaubert. \ He fished by obstinate isles.” The artist’s private break-down and disintegration was very aptly shown by T. S. Eliot in The Waste Land: On Margate Sands, / I can connect / Nothing with nothing. / The broken fingernails of dirty hands, / My people humble people who expect Nothing.
Several modern poets have employed ‘hard, dry image’ to unravel the ‘futility and anarchy’ of present society. Their images are clearly visualized, concise, precise, and accurate in detail. Pound says, “An image is that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time.” By a deft use of such images, the poets are able to create poems like classic Chinese lyric and Greek epigram.
A large number of poets have employed symbols, ‘the verbal pattern to a pattern of experience’. Blake remarked: “A symbol is, indeed, the only possible expression of some invisible essence, a transparent lamp about a spiritual flame.” Due to the use of symbols, the modern poets are able to reveal “esoteric affinities with primordial Ideas.” The importance of symbols was very well understood by W. B. Yeats, the chief representative of symbolism in 20th century poetry. Yeats says: “I have no speech but symbol, the pagan speech I made \ Amid the dreams of youth.” The influence of Rilke, Valery, Mallarme, Rimbaud and Baudelaire is visible in most of the modern poets.. “The purpose of rhythm, it has always seemed to me, is to prolong the moment of contemplation, the moment when we are both asleep and awake, which is the one moment of creation, by hushing us with an alluring monotony, while it holds us walking by variety, to keep us in that state of perhaps real trance, in which the mind liberated from the pressure of the will is unfolded in symbols” (W. B. Yeats).