Modern Poetry

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Alicia Holliday

4/14/12

Modern Poetry

Final Essay

Defining Modern Poetry

Defining modern poetry isn’t an easy thing to do. Modern Poetry can be defined as having open or free verse, borrowing from other cultures and languages, formal characteristics, and breaking down social norms and cultures, among other things. However modern poetry is so much more than that. It’s hard to define the limit of the modern age so writing about modern poets isn’t an easy task. Taking a unexpected turn after walking a strait path for a while isn’t unusual. Similarly, poetry doesn’t always walk a strait path, and can try something new. When poetry takes an abrupt turn, it can be referred to as modern.

Historically one could define modern poetry as poetry published between 1890 and 1950 in the practice of modernist literature. However the dates of modern poetry depend on a series of factors, including the school, the nation of origin, and the biases of the critic who set the dates.

Modern poetry is usually associated with the French Symbolist movement and is rumored to have stated at the same time. The stopping point is said to have been the Second World War ended. Yet some modern poets such as Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot continued to publish substantial work after World War II was over. To most modern poets, the question of topics such as objectivity seems to be critical. It is said that modern poetry emerged from expressing lyrics, imagination, personal memories of the artist, and different elements of culture. Modern Poetry ends with the introduction of confessional poetry through the work of artist such Sylvia Plath and Robert Lowell.

One of my favorite modern poets/ confessional writers is Sylvia Plath. Plath was an American novelist, short story writers, and poet. She was born in Boston Massachusetts in 1932 and both Smith and Newnham College, before she became a poet and writer. Plath was married to Ted Hughes and they had two children. Tragically, she committed suicide in 1963 due to depression among other problems. One of my favorite poems by Plath is “Daddy”, where she addresses and discusses many of the issues she had with her father who died when Plath was young. In my opinion, “Daddy” is a great example of modern poetry in many ways.

When analyzing this poem the first thing most people notice is that she is angry at her father for passing away and she feels guilty for her emotions. In the poem, Plath is expressing her pain to her pain toward him in an effort to find forgiveness within herself. “Daddy” was a way for Plath to finally establish her own independence from her father.

In the lines “Daddy I’ve had to kill you” Plath is speaking figuratively about letting him go, therefor freeing herself of the image of him she had from childhood, and his memory. Next, when Plath speaks of the “town” and what it would be like trying to bring her father to the present time, she is trying to imagine what it would be like for him to be in her life now. Next she gets very mad and upset because she knows that’s not possible and he will never be with her again.

The word “vampire” in this poem symbolizes her father as a blood sucking animal who continues to drain the life out of her even after he’s gone. The overall poem is full of anger such as this. The anger of a young girl feeling left behind is present through the poem until the end. The ending of the poem is when Plath finally is able to let go of her father’s memory. The ending lines are representing her freedom “Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.”

Another one of my favorite modernist poets is Ted Hughes. Hughes was born August 1930. In his lifetime he would be ranked as one of the best poets in his generation. As I mentioned previously, he was married to Sylvia Plath and had two children.

One of my favorite poems by Hughes, which I feel does a great job of representing modern poetry is “Pike”. “Pike” is a...
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