Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Evolution of Poetry

Over time, poetry has changed as times have changed. The poetry by Kunitz, Moore, Hughes, and Rexroth are excellent examples of this. The time period they lived in and their life experiences are evident throughout many of their poems, as is much of the poetry we have read throughout the semester. In the following pages, their work respectively, will be analyzed to determine how their works are considered to be “modern” poetry.

Overall as a poet, Kunitz is relatable and personal to the average person. His is the most recent work of the four and part of why he is so relatable is because his poetry was written in the lifetime of some of his readers. Audiences may know what he is talking about just because they lived through the time period of which it is set. The poems that come to mind are “Day of Foreboding,” “The Round,” and “Touch Me,” published in 1985 and 1995 respectively. In “Day of Foreboding,” one cannot help but think of the Cold War. In “The Round,” I think of my own inspiration when writing. I lose my inspiration as soon as it is no longer in sight. When I read, “Touch Me,” I thought of my own childhood and it was so much easier to do so knowing that it was published in1995 because I was just nine years old at the time.

Because Kunitz poetry is more current than other “modern” poets, he it is hard to think of him as modern. The events he may be referencing are events some of us have actually experienced, as in “Day of Foreboding.” In that sense, he is not modern. In other poems, such as “Touch Me,” he is modern because it is similar to Frost’s poems. He is simple, yet so complex.
In contrast, Marianne Moore has a style all her own—much like Emily Dickinson. She does not follow any particular form or style. She seems to just write free verse in a way that is poetic—with fragmented sentences. Although, in “Critics and Connoisseurs,” the second and fourth lines rhyme and two of the last three lines rhyme so there is a hint of a rhyme scheme in her work. She follows her own form to make the poems rhyme, but they have to be read with a certain pace in order for them to rhyme. She creates poetic form out of a simple paragraph or sentence. Just by looking at her poems, one can tell that they rhyme, but while reading them, a reader cannot always tell if it rhymes or not because of the habit to pause at the punctuation instead of where Moore may have intended pauses. Even then, as each reader attempts to read Moore’s poems as they “should” be read, a different interpretation develops. Moore’s poetry is definitely modern based on the content and what she has to say.

Langston Hughes is also a modern poet in the sense that his poems are so simple, yet so profound. He is modern in that he writes about issues athat are pertinent to the time period and to who he is as a person. He identifies in some way with that he is writing. He may not have experienced the situations himself, but the stories that were passed down from family certainly come through in his words. He writes of situations that an African American person has experienced at some point in American history. It is alsmot like he is writing lyrics to a Blues song.

Like Kinutz, Hughes writes of things in a form that people even today can understand. His poems are simple in meaning, yet have a greater message for society beyond the actual words. After reading such poems as “Bad Man” and “Hard Daddy,” poor people (especially African Americans) can relate to them because of their history and possibly even because they have experienced something like it or know someone who has. Hughes, in his own right, is a spokesperson for his people. Writing about issues, or at least situations, that can be applied to many people. He maintained the same theme throughout all of his poetry that is published in the textbook. From the mid-1920’s to the early 1950’s, Hughes continued to write about the same topics—very similar to earlier modern poets such as Frost.

Kenneth Rexroth is a modern poetry in that his style of poetry is representative of previous modern poets because a few of his poems are relatable to the average person. For example, his poems “Delia Rexroth” and “Andree Rexroth” are dedicated to family members dying. Everyone can relate to that. He also writes about Greek mythology, but the difference is, he “translates” it and makes it comprehensible for the average person, as seen in “Homer in Basic.” At the same time though, these poems are still difficult to understand because of the original complexity of the poem. Like Kunitz, Rexroth he is modern because his work is more recent than other modern poets and most people think of “modern” as being current. In addition, there is some language that is difficult to understand without referencing his footnotes, much like Shakespeare or especially Eliot.

Overall, Kunitz, Moore, Hughes, and Rexroth are all considered modern poets in their own right. They all have similarities to the other modern poets, but they are also specific to their own personal genre. All four poets are modern because they have at least some poems that can be related to by the reader, and others that are difficult to understand. All of their poems are open to interpretation and each interpretation can be different and nowhere near what the author had originally intended. But then, that is the result of every work of art.

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