The term modernism holds a meaning of radical shift in sensibilities and aesthetics that are cultural and are also evident in literature and art of the post first world war period. According to Eliot, the view of the world that was stable and meaningful could not be in terms futility’s immense panorama as well as anarchy which is modern history (Brennan). Modernism is thus taken to be a mark of emancipation from bourgeois morality; rejecting optimism in the 19th century. They were a presentation of a profound culture that was that was not in array. Modernism can be looked in three perspectives which could be philosophical, psychological, and social thought.
Many consider Yeats as the last romantic even though he should be looked at as poetry’s founding father. There are no modern parameters that have been set by poetry apart from the fact that it is poetry whose writing took place after the 1890’s (Deonauth). Aesthetics of norms are being questioned by modern poetry. The questions that arise are solid facts, skepticism showing and obscurity produced within the work. This is mostly considered to be a shift of paradigms that are radical and makes it possible for poets to give up the burden of hyperboles that are unjustified and love that is overly glorified. This allowed them embrace that which is physical and make an exploration of the world the way it is by writing about realities that are harsh. A consideration can be made that the modern poetry brought poetry to life, they rescued it by making it adapt to the society (Deonauth). Poetry is considered to be society’s mirror; this means that it also changes as the society changes in in dire situations.
Elements of modern mysticism in modern poetry can be basically credited to Yeats. He brings together Irish myths and legends with historical figures and thus comes up with something that is different. He is one of the writers who used supernatural elements coming from mythology of the Irish (Deonauth). He is also among the few who included into their poetry romantic notions. He also applied the ‘Mask’ theory in his poetry coming with work that was relatable but complex.
The only modern poet to integrate spiritual and mystical elements in poetry was Yeats. He is also among the few who utilizes an alternate rhyme scene; this is considered to be a trademark of poetry’s romantic era (Deonauth). The explanation that he gave for the use of rhyme scene and symbolism was that:
“The purpose of rhythm, it has always seemed to me, is to prolong the moment of contemplation, the moment when we are both asleep and awake, which is the one moment of creation, by hushing us with an alluring monotony, while it holds us walking by variety, to keep us in that state of perhaps real trance, in which the mind liberated from the pressure of the will is unfolded in symbols” (Bornstein and Finneran p.177).
This explanation liberalized the authors mind since the way he was thinking was very unique and it was quite obvious that his poetry portrayed his remarkable ideas. Similar to modern poets, he was considered a realist. This is because his works covers what poetry that is necessary always covers which is simply touch on our nature of sympathy while using the same platform to take in unsympathetic reality of the world in which there is a constant exposure of that nature.
Another figure who is a contributor of modernism is T.S. Eliot. In a sense, the life of Elliot was a constant reaction against his background. He was able to identify a common connection of humanism, Romanticism, utilitarianism liberalism and individualism. This was important to his convictions and what this meant was aristocracy, collective rendition, orthodoxy and hierarchy against romantic ego’s tyranny (Brennan). He paradoxically put his puritan ancestors’ birthright radicalism to his art’s service. This made his art radical. He rejected his immediate predecessors in literature in English world but “instead fused the louche macabre of French Symbolists such as Baudelaire and Laforgue with the visceral intensity of the English metaphysicals of the seventeenth century and the complex cosmology of Dante” (Brennan). Elliot’s first poetry collections “Prufrock and Other Observations” made it to the literary scene of high modernist in 1917, this work had preceded 1922’s ‘the waste land’ (Brennan). Both works used style to scandalize taste that is conventional. Eliot never accepted the formulaic sweetness as well as a burnout romanticism that was conventional for a free verse that was fragmented whose characteristic was intense psychological anxiety, decay and urban imagery.
The modernist principle by Elliot was revolutionary and reactionary but it was no antiquarianism, instead it made a confrontation and spoke to the 20th century; it also spoke for the century (Brennan). They held a belief that there must be an integration of society, culture, language and religion. This needed the artists as opposed to submission to emotion in a mode that is romantic.
Lastly we look at Conrad whose writing style was tautological, winding, indirect and since some occasion a narrative structure that is ambiguous (Dominic). In this writing style, there is stuttering placement of adjectives, awkward positioning of punctuation and initially his prose will be found to be hard going by first readers. However, his persistence stsrted becoming clear that his stuttering style was not that of someone who was struggling to have a grip of the queen’s language, he was a in fact someone who was a master of it.
It was this shift in style of narration that has a resistance in linear development of the realist novels of the century that proceeded. They were popular. This is what marked him as a modern author. It is his experimentation on styles that enabled him to question, interrogate as reevaluate morality which is perhaps thematic interest that is recurrent (Dominic). When inspected closely, it out rightly rejects the basic preaching of moral truths and sentiments. Instead, Conrad has interest in setting up scenarios that are fictional where value sets that are obvious or belief systems that are acceptable are questioned. He makes his readers make an acknowledgement of the limitations they have in their knowledge as well as the geographical and historical specifity of their behavioral habits and values (Dominic). By doing so he gets to expose the readers’ relativity as well as their fragility.
In conclusion by looking at the works of all these modern revolutionary writers they can definitely be considered to be modern writers. All their work made some contributions that shifted the style of writing from a traditional one to a modern one. Moreover, their work was not limited to literature since it also touched on philosophical, psychological, and social thinking as it has been seen earlier. They mostly achieved this by provoking the readers into thinking.
Bornstein, George and Finneran, Richard J. Yeats William Butler: The Collected Works of W.B.
Yeats Volume IV: Early Essays. Simon and Schuster. 2007. 117
Brennan, Roland. T. S. “Eliot and Reactionary Modernism in the Early Twentieth Century.”
Sydney Traditionalist Forum. N.d. Web. November 9, 2013
Deonauth, Shanesha, William Yeats contribution to “Modern Poetry‟. March 4, 2013. Web.
November 9, 2013.
Dominic Davies. Joseph Conrad. University of Oxford. N.d. Web. November 09, 2013.