The Modernist trend in English Literature began in the 20th. Century and was catapulted by World War I that had engulfed Europe in a cloud of cultural shock and had ravaged nations through the time period of 1914-1918. The first and the second wars had left the nation in a state of paralysis and there was a massive change in the way the world was perceived. Writers started introducing the concept of individualism in their works that was earlier discouraged in the Victorian Era since they were majorly preoccupied with Nature and Romanticism. The Modernist preoccupation leaned towards the realization of the inner self and the stream of consciousness, which are found in the works of many novelists and poets of this Era. There developed a tendency to highlight the gradual decay and alienation of individuals and this trend owed its origin to the ravages of the war.
Subjects of Modernist Poetry:
Poetry is the window through which writers have often vented their opinions and this was the time when poets began revolutionizing their work to a new level of creative genre. The works of that time dealt with the subject of alienation but they were neither abstract nor vague. They talked about the prevalent state of affairs in the 20th century; the hollowness, the decay, the trauma, the sense of irreplaceable loss and disdain.
What Ruled The Scenes?
Imagism was the beginning of the Modernist trend in English poetry. Imagist poetry was quite like the French Symbolism. This genre brought about a sharp decline in the dream-like qualities of Pastoral poems. There was a distinct directness in the structure with short, blunt, unrhymed sentences, and hardly any use of ornamentation. There prevailed a sense of urgency in the style of writing poems, quite like the days of metaphysical poetry; the theme of time running out and the direct provocation to seize the moment. More verbose and lesser details, this genre seemed to merge poetry and natural language. With this freedom in structure and language, poets found limitless potential in subject and content. Ezra Pound was one such poet who brought down the escalated language of poetry to sound closer to its direct meaning. The high-handedness of poetry had begun to lose its splendour.
T.S. Eliot And His Vision Of The World
T.S. Eliot was highly influenced by Ezra Pound and he has produced some of the greatest works of art in the 20th Century. His conversational style, easy language that seemed direct, yet hid several layers of meanings underneath, is revered till date. This also marked the true essence of Modernist Poetry which was more about hidden truths than elaborate praise. His celebrated work of all times, The Wasteland, is a classic example of Modernism, marked by allusions, imagery, stripping down to simplicity and the fragmentation of language, that form the basis of the modernist streak. There is an obsession with the self and ego and the pathways leading to truth.
The Modernist Age of Poetry was the stepping stone towards realizing the latent potential of verse. That poetry need not enslaved by structure and language, was the most incredible discovery of this genre.