Major Movements of 20th Century Poetry

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      The first World War that broke out in 1914 made poetry more popular than what it used to be before the war. The reason of it was "poetry was the only kind of creative writing in which there was a marked quickening of public interest during the First World War and for the first time in several regenerations, the reading and writing of poetry were again considered normal activities." The effect of war caused the revival of poetry. The years before the war began, a new movement known as the Georgian Movement, was started in English poetry.

The reason of it was "poetry was the only kind of creative writing in which there was a marked quickening of public interest during the First World War and for the first time in several regenerations, the reading and writing of poetry were again considered normal activities." The effect of war caused the revival of poetry. The years before the war began, a new movement known as the Georgian Movement, was started in English poetry.
Literary Movement

Georgian Movement:

      The following are the main of the Georgian movement features: (1) The Georgian movement was launched in the summer of 1912. (2) The project of the movement was discussed at a lunch party in Sir Edward Marsh's room in the presence of poets like Rupert Brooke, John Drinkwater, W.W. Gibson, Harold Monro and Marsh himself. (3) The idea took public shape in the first Georgian anthology of 1912 which made an immediate impression on the public. (4) The movement successfully continued till 1922. (5) It was not only a movement as the intelligence of Harold Monro and the taste of Sir Edward Marsh guided and shaped the course of events. (6) Georgian poets were to be English but not aggressively imperialistic, pantheistic rather than atheistic. (7) The books were as simple as Child's reading book and the subjects were to be "Nature, love, leisure, old age, childhood, animals, sleep... unemotional subjects". (8) Georgian poets were conventional. "They present a pageant of the English countryside, stemming from Cowper and Tennyson, though brought into a twentieth century focus - Martin Armstrong's poem Miss Thompson goes Shopping, Edmund Blunden's Alms-women (both these poems are dated 1920), Sassoon's " The old Huntsman", are examples, and there are others, by the hundred, in the work of the poets from Brooke to Drinkwater, and imagery poets, virtually forgotten - A. Hugh Fisher, Rowland Thirlinere, F.W. Harvey, and (almost the last of the uneducated poets) Alfred Williams." (9) The Georgian poets were mainly pastoral writers. Nature is the main subject matter in almost all the poems. The Georgian love of nature appeared to be an attempt to escape from the realities of contemporary life. (10) They treated the contemporary world with much contempt. (11) Besides Nature and industrial life the other traits in Georgian poets were - local patriotism, love of animals, of country-folk and of children. (12) The poetic drama produced by the Georgian was Drinkwater's Abraham Lincoln. It was the most well-known one. (13) Inspite of their enviably neat technique they sometimes reached extremes of insipidity. (14) The Georgians frequently tried to experiment in verse forms. Though lyrical but they failed to produce a single lyrical poem which expresses real joy or rapture or an anguish or a throb of the heart.

English Poetry of The War Period:

      The best works of Siegfiried Sasson, Robert Graves, Herbert Read, Robert Nicholas had a specific subject matter of war. This atitude of war made these poets quite different from other poets.

The Imagist Movement:

      Following are the highlights of the imagist movement: (1) After the War there was the imagist movement which began in 1908. The poets of 1915, 1916 and 1917 brought the movement to public notice. The chief members of the group were three Englishmen: T.E. Hulme, F.S. Flint and Richard Aldington; and three Americans: Ezra Pound, HD. (Hilda Doolittle) and Amy Lowell. The noted American poet, Ezra Pound, invented the term "Imagist".

      (2) According to Ezra Pound, "Image" is that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time." In regard to the use of images, Pound advised the poets in these words, "Go in far of abstractions, that is, use concrete images having the hardness of cut stones".

      (3) The imagist's were influenced by the ideas of Poe and preferred writing eliminated expository, narrative, didactic and descriptive matter from poetry and concentrated on the short poems.

      (4) Poetry is a spoken and not a written art. The imagist wrote in free verse and it was their studied craftsmanship that made the art so popular. Along with the vers libre (free verse) the theory of rhythm was a unique contribution of the Imagists to English poetry.

      (5) Hopkins did not find any merits of the Imagists. Hle says it has produced an arid waste of verse which "another age will turn over with wonder and distaste."

      (6) Salient achievement brought by the Imagists are-hardness and precision, clear concentrated expression. The target of the Imagist movement was "to push the search for spontaneousness and immediacy upto the point where the obtrusion for interpreting constructive thought has not yet succeeded in making itself felt."

      (7) The limitations of the Imagists was that they were so much conscious of their being strikingly different and dissimilar from other poets that they often failed to produce genuine poetry. "They aimed at the clarity and concentration of the classic chinese lyric and the Greek epigram but did not realise that these forms grew out of highly civilized societies in conditions which did not exist in early twentieth century England".

The Sitwell Group:

      (1) After the Georgians and the Imagist anthologies came a third series of group-verses in the anthology called six "eycles", of which, edited by Edith Sitwell, appeared between 1916 and 1921. In the words of G.S. Fraser, "The early work of all three Sitwells, Edith, Osbert and Sacheverell, shows a strong family likeness, a common range of themes and attitudes, though Osbert had from the beginning more of a bent for satire than his brother and sister.

      (2) The Sitwells attempted to be symbolic but, in fact, they failed to achieve genuine symbolism. "Like the symbolists, they relied on the power of elision and suggestion; they compelled readers to participate in the process of creation and made them fill the gaps between thought and figure, between meaning and mystery."

New Signatures, New Voices:

      (1) A new poetry emerged from the chaos of the twenties to represent the grimmer decade of the thirties. It was mainly concentrated in, the works of three poets closely associated in friendship and ideals, W.H. Auden, Cecil Day Lewis, and Stephen Spender. To these names may be added those others which appeared them in Michael Robert's famous anthology, including William Empson, Richard Eberhart and Willian Plomer and Mac Neice. W.H. Auden, C. Day Lewis and Stephen Spender were the three chief poets and theirs was the most important influence during the next few years. Their poetry was written from a left wing political position and since they refrained from being dogmatic and retained their individuality as poets, their politics did not impair their poetry. In all their poetry of the thirties these poets stressed the values of the human heart, the human individual.

      (2) The poets of New Signatures were influenced by T.S. Eliot in more ways than one. But they revolted against Eliot's despair and disillusion and against the solution, which he sought through the Anglo-Catholic church.

      (3) The poets of the New Signature Group painted an unflattering picture of the times and they wanted their contemporaries to be conscious of the dangers that confronted them and to face these dangers with a conscious human purpose.

      (4) The poetry of New Signature Group "proclaimed a fresh affirmation, they announced a renewed interest in, and a desire to reach the common man.." These poets praised candour instead of complexity and celebrated those who were visionaries, pioneers, leaders in nobility. Auden paid tribute to Freud, who attempted to unite "the unequal moieties red by our own mean sense of justice" and William Butler Yeats.

      (5) The poets of the New Signature Group were bound together by common ideals and they had many things in common but they developed on individual ines also.

Surrealism And The New Romanticism Or The New Apocalypse:

      (1) Surrealism was defined, "as a kind of waking dream-state, Pure Psychic automatism, by which it is intended to express, verbally, in writing, or by other means, the real process of thought." According to Andre Breton "Surrealism rests on the belief in the superior reality of certain hitherto neglected forms of association, in the omnipotence of the dream, in the disinterested play of thought."

      (2) Surrealism had the effect of paving the way for a poetry where the importance of precise moral and rational content was now discounted and where communication with an audience meant for the poet.

      (3) While Surrealism failed to take roots in England revolt against it became widespread and in 1938 a new group of poets with the sounding title "The New Apocalypse" arose. In this group prominent poets were, Nicholas Moore, J.E Hendry, G.S. Fraser, Henry Treece. Three great influences behind it were Herbert Read, George Barker, and Dylan Thomas.

      (4) The Neo-Romantic movement in poetry was born as a reaction against the surrealist method but it was partly influenced by surrealism especially by what Herbert Read described as the essential of surrealism, "the effort to realize some of the dimensions and characteristics of man's submerged being.

      (5) The Apocalyptics were called new romantics because they have certain affinities with the well-known romantic poets and like them the Apocalyptics proposed dream, myth, fantasy and terrible desires. The Neo-Romantic Poets emphasized that dreams, myths and obscure terrible desires should be controlled by sanity so that the complete man and not his depths alone might be expressed.

      (6) The Neo-Romantic movement expressed its sense of revolt against the cult of the machine and it did not agree with the view that art must be limited entirely to political and social ends.

      (7) Nicholas Moure is one of the most well-known poets in the Neo-romantic movement. Moore's sympathies are wide and all-encompassing for his own misery has taught him that the miseries of all human beings are alike: "The wind blows. This is my fable. It has been the last movement in English poetry so far, and its achievements have not been negligible.

      (8) The Neo-romantic movement had begun with the purpose of finding out order in the prevailing chaos. Most of the poets of this movement, "have helped poetry away from excess of thought over image, the arid waste lands of literary and sociological allusion, the will of the wisp of metaphysical wit, towards natural lyricism and the ringing note, and a sensuous imagery deepened in significance by intimations of the hidden life within the mind."

English poetry Since The Second World War:

      (1) Like the First World War, the second war also left its impact on English poetry. ln the poetry written during the second war we do not find that romantic, sentimental note which was seen in the earlier war poetry of the first war and in the poetry of the second war we see that from the beginning the poets look upon the war in a realistic manner.

      (2) The second war produced a widespread mood of depression and frustration and even the poets who had given evidence of a powerful social idealism, shrank back but it would be wrong to think that the inspiring messages of hope and love were not at all heard. It was quite natural that to the poets it seemed that all was lost in a world in which violence and barbarism prevailed but this voice of despair was not the only voice and sentiments of love, sympathy and hope were also expressed in poetry.

      (3) When the war broke out the dominant mood was despair. But the midst of hatred and suspicion and enmity and rancour, poets repeatedly spoke of love as the only possible remedy. Keyes who has expressed in so many of his poems a sense of utter frustration and despair, nevertheless feels that love and sympathy may save mankind from the hands of decay and death.

      (4) The call of action is insistent in MacNeice and he rates the self-pity of those who want to dissociate themselves from a movement simply because there is no absolute certainty about its success.

      (5) The note of optimism and love which the poet wants to assert inspires him to fight against the enemy and he implores all those who have their fellow-men to prepare themselves also for such a fight.

      (6) During the second war-period, many poets turned frequently to nature and painted her beauties. When the English people were fighting against Hitler and Mussolini, trees, birds and flowers continued to weave their mysterious live, the sun still peered through mosaics of cloud and the moon still shone in the sky. Nature's loveliness make the poet put aside his melancholy and sad reflection.

      (7) After the end of the second war, considerable amount of poetry has been written but there has not been any particular movement. In the year 1956; however, a new anthology of poems with the title New Lines was brought out. Many distinctive poems have been shown in the post-war period but readers awaited for a poet whose individuality is strong enough to stamp itself on the process of our living.

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