Hope versus Passionate Love
Two poets can be both alike and different, just as the two poets Edgar Lee Masters and Amy Lowell are Edgar Lee Masters and Amy Lowell write poetry about life, finding love and experiencing loss in very different ways, but both are successful in bringing about a truly touching connection with their readers. These two poets have an extraordinary ability to attract their audiences, by using both romanticism and modern techniques in their writing. Amy Lowell said it best when she said, “A poet feeds on beauty as a plant feeds on air,” and both of these poets are obviously very talented and successful in using natural beauty to be a driving force in their poetry. In her book Tendencies in Modern American Poetry, Lowell also writes, “The poet must himself provide the touchstone which will fuse the crude elements into a plastic and symbolic whole” (153). Masters and Lowell provide this touchstone for their readers, allowing them to go back in time when these characters lived and face the same triumphs and loss that they did, through their story. Amy Lowell speaks highly of Edgar Lee Masters in her book Tendencies In Modern American Poetry saying, “We may regard the work of these two poets as being the most revolutionary that America has yet produced” (142). Edgar Lee Masters was a modern poet who was often seen using a more direct and straight forward approach to his writing. This enables him to maintain a sense of precision in developing his characters and staying accurate to their lifestyle; they tend to be farmland people. His poem “Lucinda Matlock” is told to the reader from the protagonist’s, an old woman’s point of view, which makes this a dramatic monologue, because she talks about herself and her life. She does this as though she is reflecting back on her life, over a seventy year span. Masters’ poem does not follow a specific rhythm and rhyme pattern that readers were previously used to before the modernist movement came about, making this a modern poem. “Lucinda Matlock” was inspired by his own paternal grandmother who was also a farmer’s wife and who was very plain spoken, just as the main character is in this particular poem. It opens up with a description of her younger years when she informs the reader that she was quite the socialite and attended many parties, where she danced and played a card game called snap-out; this is a game similar to that of the game musical chairs. Next, Masters writes, “Driving home in the moonlight of middle June, And then I found Davis” (1308). This line indicates that the woman was satisfied with her marriage when she uses the word “found” instead of merely saying “met”; found is a much more endearing term.
Next the reader can see that the major theme of this poem is hope. The narrator tells the reader that she and her husband had twelve children, eight of which they succeeded. Any parent knows that losing a child would be one of the most difficult things to deal with. It is always hoped and expected that the parents should be buried long before their children are, but in this poem, this very nightmare came true not once, but eight times. Regardless of this dreadful situation, Lucinda remains positive and hopeful, rather than turning bitter and negative. The theme is also shown again in lines eighteen through twenty two when she is speaking to those who lose hope and become bitter and unhappy with life, and shows her annoyance with this type of attitude. The last line is the most indicative of this theme when she says, “It takes life to love Life.” (1308) Using the capital “L” also gives the word life a more significant role and also shows the reader the deep appreciation that the narrator has with life itself. Masters also draws upon Nature as a major theme in this poem, which starts in line eleven when he writes, “I made the garden and for holiday
Rambled over the fields where sang the larks,
And by Spoon River gathering many a shell,” (1308)...
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