Literary contest of modernism

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A country literary production is not merely writing. It is usually divided into different sections, namely poetry, drama and prose.
1890-1914 it was a period of transition from the canons of Victorian poetry. Indeed, there was a change in styles, metres and subjects. Artists started experimenting on these aspects.
1) GEORGIAN POETS: they wrote during the reign of George V (1910-1936). They wrote short, simple, sentimental lyrics. The subjects of their poetry were nature, country life, love, beauty and youth. These poems tried to create a dream-world opposed to the real world, which, according to these poets, was not worthy to be represented in poems. The main representatives of this group were De la Mare, Masefield and R. Brooke.
2) WAR POETS: they were young poets who took part, and/or died, in WWI. Their poems were moving (=toccanti - commoventi). The subjects of these poems were mainly war, the description of life in trenches, the experience of suffering and witnessing (=essere testimoni di) the death of their friends. A distinction must be done between the poems written in the first stages of the war and those written in the second stage. At first, the poems were full of sense of patriotism and showed the enthusiasm felt against the enemy but, soon poets, as well as people, became aware of the horror of the war and massacres. Their poems became very realistic, filled with anger, sorrow and despair. The main war poets were Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon.
3) MODERNIST POETS: the most important modernist poets were T.S. Eliot andW.B. Yeats.
a. T.S. Eliot took experimentalism to the extremes. Indeed he experimented also on diction, style and versification. His poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (1917) is very original and had strong impact on people, for this reason it is considered the turning point of modern poetry. In the long poem The Waste Land he described the desolation of modern world.
b. W.B. Yeats was an Irish original and skilled poet. He absorbed the new ideas of modernism and developed his own as well. His best works were produced between 1919 and 1939. there he gave proof of variety and complexity of themes and technical skill. His vision of mankind was bitter. He wanted to express the complexity of human experience.
4) THE OXFORD GROUP: this group was very active during the 1930s as a reaction to Modernists and Georgians. In their works they discussed social problems to which they proposed left-wing solutions (= soluzioni di sinistra). They were socially and intellectually committed (= impegnati). They also proposed the psychological analysis of modern world crisis.
They are called “Oxford Group” because they all studied at Oxford, but they always rejected this name.
The most important poet of this group is W.H. AUDEN. In particular he used: language in a very vital and skilful way; concrete images to express his intellectual ideas.
5) THE NEW ROMANTICS: they were active during the late 1930s and they were against intellectual committed poetry like that of the Oxford Group. They were in favour of a more personal type of verse in which they could free their emotions on topics like birth, sex, life and death.
The most important poet from this group is DYLAN THOMAS who used very strong images and a revolutionary language in which sounds create very striking musical effects.
In his poems images are often arranged in contrast and become abstract metaphors with obscure meanings. Anyway the effect of these metaphors on the readers is always effective and immediate.
At the beginning of the 20th century, American poetry is characterised by a tendency towards experimentation in styles and contents. They were linked to old traditions but added to them new values. The main poets in this age were:
- E. Arlington Robinson = he used old poetic forms to express the anguish (= angoscia – travaglio) and fear of his time. His language was close to that of romantic poetry, whereas the contents of his poetry were modern: sense of loss in a world deprived of values and beliefs.
- R. Frost = his poems are only apparently simple. They “start in delight and end in wisdom” because at a first reading they seem simple and immediate, but at a second reading they show deeper meanings. In his works Frost celebrates the natural scenes of New England (= a region in the USA including six states: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island). To him the farm (= fattoria) represents a large part of himself and his anchor (= àncora) to reality.
- Edgar Lee Masters = he is well-known for his collection of poems published in 1915 The Spoon River Anthology. It is composed by 243 poems in which the dead people from the town of Spoon River speak from their graves. The language used by the different characters is appropriate to their social class. In this work Lee Masters attacks the narrow-mindedness of life in the small towns of the USA, imbued with (= impregnato di) “cruel” Puritanism.