Modernism and First World War poetry: alternative lines

Palmer, A. and Minogue, S. (2015) Modernism and First World War poetry: alternative lines. In: Davis, Alex and Jenkins, L., eds. A History of Modernist Poetry. First ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 227-251 ISBN 9781107038677

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Abstract

We argue that with the First World War, modernist poetry diverged into two distinct strands, each drawing on different poetic antecedents, but related to rather than divided from each other. 'High modernism' is what we are familiar with: the poetry of W. B. Yeats, T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound (the dominant figures) and others such as Richard Aldington, H. D. and Mina Loy, already developing pre-war, and continuing on its path without much of a stumble throughout the war. 'Low modernism' is by contrast predominantly English but has an American model and antecedent in Walt Whitman, whilst also drawing on a line of English poetry originating with Hardy’s The Dynasts and his Boer War poetry, with its elements of doubleness and multivocality. It is this strand that we see developed as modernist by soldier-poets (our exemplars are Ivor Gurney, David Jones and Isaac Rosenberg), and by non-combatants such as Mary Borden, D. H. Lawrence and Charlotte Mew. This poetry is demotic and democratic, inclusive rather than obscure, but thereby also multivocal and multi-perceptional, unsettling the point of view, and reflecting similar preoccupations with consciousness, perception and the fragility of existence as the high modernists.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: P Language and Literature
P Language and Literature > PR English Literature
P Language and Literature > PR English Literature > PR0500 Poetry
P Language and Literature > PR English Literature > PR0057 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PR English Literature > PR6000 1900-1960
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Dr Andrew Palmer
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2019 16:57
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2019 16:57
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/17976

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00