Modernism and First World War poetry: alternative lines

Book chapter


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

Page range227-251
Year2015
Book titleA History of Modernist Poetry
PublisherCambridge University Press
Output statusPublished
Place of publicationCambridge
EditionFirst
ISBN9781107038677
Publication dates
Print27 Apr 2015
Publication process dates
Deposited07 Feb 2019
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https://repository.canterbury.ac.uk/item/88yqy/modernism-and-first-world-war-poetry-alternative-lines

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