Unseen Poetry - Literary Movements



Societal Influences of Modernist poetry:

  • The aftermath od WWI and WWII (reflects the horror of war, the changing roles of women in society, often pessimistic about humanity)
  • Technological advancements and the subsequent fear of change
  • The development of cities and the threat of urbanisation to traditional ways of life
  • Fear of the future (e.g. fear of surveillance and state observation in Orwell's 1984)

Quotes about the Modernist Movement

"Human nature underwent a fundamental change on or about December 1910" - Viginia Woolf

"Make it new!" - Ezra Pound

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Victorian vs Modernist

Features of Victorian Poetry                       Features of Modernist Poetry

- order                                                             - chaos

- meaningful language                                   - futile or trivial language

- optimistic                                                      - pessimistic

- faith and religion                                          - loss of faith, advancement of science

- morality and defined narratives                    - collase of morality and convention

- clear sense of identity                                  - confused identities

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Modernism and the Imagist Movement

The Imagist Movement

  • tried to achieve clarity of expression through the use of precise visual images
  • a reaction against the "careless thinking" of the Georgian Romantic poets
  • focused on the power of simple, individual words

Famous/leading imagist poets include Ezra Pound, Amy Lowell, HD and Richard Aldington

An Example of Imagist Poetry:

In a Station of the Metro

"The apparition of these faces in the crowd;                                                                                         Petals on a wet, black bough"

- Ezra Pound (1913)

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Features of Romatic Poetry

  • pastoral imagery; great appreciation for the beauty of nature
  • influenced by political events e.g. The French Revolution
  • often poetry of love or the loss of a lover

The Six Major Romatic Poets:

1. William Blake (The Garden of Love, Songs of Innocence and of Experience)

2. Williams Wordsworth (I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud or The Daffodils)

3. Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Christabel)

4. Lord Byron (She Walks in Beauty)

5. Percy Shelly (Ode to a Skylark)

6. John Keats (La Belle Dame sans Merci)

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Renaissance Poetry

Renaissance poetry is often characterised by the theme of love, usually expressed through sonnets.

Petrarchan sonnet: originally from Italy, Petrarchan sonnets were the first form of sonnet popularised in England by Francesco Petrarch 

  • ABBA ABBA CDDC EE rhyme scheme 
  • arranged in an octave and a sestet, with a volta between the two
  • the octave presents the question, argument or observation
  • the sestet provides an answer, counter arguement or clarity

Spenserian sonnet: a variation on the Petrarchan sonnet invented by Edmund Spenser 

  • ABAB BCBC CDCD EE rhyme scheme
  • arranged in three quatrains and a final rhyming couplet
  • the quatrains develop three distinct but closely related ideas 
  • the final couplet presents a different idea or commentary on what has been said in previous lines
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Renaissance Poetry (continued)

Shakespearean sonnets: a variation of the Petrarchan sonnet invented by William Shakespeare

  • ABAB CDCD EFEF GG rhyme scheme
  • arranged in three quatrains and a couplet with a more flexible placement of the volta
  • each quatrain develops a different but closely related idea
  • the final couplet offers a summary or a new take on the issue 
  • written in iambic pentameter

Studied examples of Shakespeare's Sonnets

1. Sonnet 116 ("Let me not to the marriage of true minds...")

2. Sonnet 18 ("Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?...")

3. Sonnet 130 ("My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun...")

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