Modernist poetry

Modernist poetry refers to poetry written, mainly in Europe and North America, between 1890 and 1950 in the tradition of modernist literature, but the dates of the term depend upon a number of factors, including the nation of origin, the particular school in question, and the biases of the critic setting the dates.[1] The critic/poet C. H. Sisson observed in his essay Poetry and Sincerity that "Modernity has been going on for a long time. Not within living memory has there ever been a day when young writers were not coming up, in a threat of iconoclasm."[2]


Notwithstanding it is usually said to have begun with the French Symbolist movement and it artificially ends with the Second World War, the beginning and ending of the modernist period are of course arbitrary. Poets like W. B. Yeats (1865–1939) and Rainer Maria Rilke (1875–1926) started in a post-Romantic, Symbolist vein and modernised their poetic idiom after being affected by political and literary developments. Imagism proved radical and important, marking a new point of departure for poetry.[3] Some consider 'it began in the works of Hardy and Pound, Eliot and Yeats, Williams and Stevens.[4] English-language poets, like T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Robert Frost, Basil Bunting ('a born modernist'),[4] Wallace Stevens, and E. E. Cummings also went on to produce work after World War II.