Loading...

ENGL408: Modern Poetry and Poetics

Unit 3: Early Modernist Movements: Symbolism, Imagism, and Their Relatives  

From a contemporary poet’s perspective that often simplifies the initial choice of directions between formalist verse such as Dylan Thomas' famous villanelle “Do not go gentle into that good night” and free verse such as e.e. cummings’ “spring is like a perhaps / Hand in a window,” the existence of so many, often contentious movements, in modern poetry (1900–1960) seems peculiar. What may be even stranger is that almost every movement is backed by a revolutionary manifesto, arguing that movement’s greater understanding of the true nature or purpose of its brand of poetry, published in its own special journal.
 
Jeanine Johnson in her book, Why Write Poetry?: Modern Poets Defending Their Art, attempts to sum up the rationale behind the plethora of poetic movements that sprung up throughout the 20th century:

 
“Pope and Tennyson could assume, in a way that Eliot and Pound could not, that the interpretive equipment their readers brought to their poems was more or less adequate and therefore, the modern poets wrote manifestoes and critical prose in unprecedented quantities to try to communicate to readers the principles at work behind their poems. . . . Many of these manifestoes promoted a particular type of or approach to poetry. These were defences of imagism, vorticism, futurism, and objectivism; of the Fugitives and neo-symbolists; of an authentic “Negro” or African-American literature as envisioned in a certain way by Langston Hughes in Fire!! (1926), and in other ways by later authors such as Amiiri Baraka and Audre Lorde; of Projective Verse and of the works of the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets; of Beat poetry and of feminist confessional poetry.”
 
In this unit, we will consider an extensive sampling of some of these movements, including Symbolism and Imagism. We will discuss other movements, such as the more radical movements of Futurism, Vorticism, Objectivism, and High Modernism, in greater detail in Units 3, 5, and 6 of this course, metaphorically interrupted by Unit 4’s coverage of the most defining event of the 20th century, World War I.
 

This unit opens with a comparison of Symbolism to Victorian era poetry. This unit will discuss the incorporation of Symbolism into modern British poetic expression, such as with W.B. Yeats, and American poetic expressions, such as with Wallace Stevens, and will then turn to the various other “–isms” that were cultivated in the early 1900s, examining their poetics, practices, and concerns.This unit attempts to define Imagism and then continues to explore Imagism and its sister poetic movements with names like Amygism as well as Movement and Stasis. Imagism is the name given to a movement in poetry, originating in 1912 and represented by Ezra Pound, Amy Lowell, Hilda Doolittle (H.D.), Wallace Stevens, Richard Aldington, F.S. Flint, John Gould Fletcher, Harriet Monroe, Marianne Moore, and others. Imagism aims at clarity of expression through the use of precise visual images. In the early period, the word was often written in the French form Imagisme as an extension of the practice of the 19th century French Symbolists studied in Unit 2. Unit 3 Time Advisory
Completing this unit should take you approximately 33.25 hours.

☐   Introduction: 0.75 hours

☐   Subunit 3.1: 1 hour

☐   Subunit 3.2: 8 hours

☐   Reading: 6 hours

☐   Lecture: 2 hours

☐  Subunit 3.3: 4 hours

☐   Reading: 2.5 hours

☐   Lecture: 1.5 hours

☐   Subunit 3.4: 2.25 hours

☐   Subunit 3.5: 2.75 hours

☐   Subunit 3.6: 0.75 hours

☐   Subunit 3.7: 1.75 hours

☐   Subunit 3.8: 6.25 hours

☐   Reading: 3.25 hours

☐   Lectures: 3 hours

☐   Subunit 3.9: 4.75 hours

☐   Reading: 3.25 hours

☐   Lecture: 1.5 hours

Unit3 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you should be able to: - define and identify characteristics of the set of movements branching most directly from the French Symbolistes: Imagism, variations of Symbolism, Amygism, and Movement and Stasis; and - analyze some examples of poems and poets from each of these movements.

  • Reading: Brown University and The University of Tulsa’s The Modernist Journals Project: “Modernism Began in the Magazines”

    Link: Brown University and The University of Tulsa’s The Modernist Journals Project: “Modernism Began in the Magazines” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Review this excellent collection of poetry journals that sprung up in the early 20th century and published boundary-breaking modern poets’ works and theories of poetry. Click on the image of each journal to learn more about the publication.
     
    Reviewing the journals should take approximately 45 minutes.
     

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyrights and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

3.1 The Decadent Symbolists   - Reading: Grand Valley State University: Michael Webster’s “Poetic Modes in the Late 19th and Early 20th Century” Link: Grand Valley State University: Michael Webster’s “Poetic Modes in the Late 19th and Early 20th Century” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this article, taking notes on how Symbolist and Imagist poetry was a reaction against the genteel poetry of the Victorian era. This reading will also revisit the definition and characteristics of modernism. Identify the features of the decadent Imagists and Symbolists vs. those of the genteel Victorian poets.
 
Reading this article and identifying these features should take approximately 1 hour.

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyrights and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

3.2 William Butler Yeats and the Early Use of Irish Mythology   - Reading: Poetry Foundation: William Butler Yeats’ “The Song of Wandering Aengus” and “A Coat” Link: Poetry Foundation: William Butler Yeats’ “The Song of Wandering Aengus” (HTML) and Allpoetry: “A Coat” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read Yeats’ poems, “The Song of Wandering Aengus” and
“A Coat.”  
    
 As you read, consider the following study question and writing
prompt: How does Symbolism enter into Yeats’ poetry? For each poem,
write a paragraph in which you analyze the poem’s dominant symbols.
Consider posting your paragraph to the [ENGL408 Course Discussion
Board](http://forums.saylor.org/forum/english/ENGL408/), and respond
to other students’ posts.  

 Studying these poems, answering the question above, and completing
the writing activity should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: WikiSource: William Butler Yeats’ “The Madness of King Goll” Link: WikiSource: William Butler Yeats’ “The Madness of King Goll” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read Yeats’ poem, “The Madness of King Goll.” This poem presents itself as a monologue and an ode to the Irish spirit.
     
    As you read, consider the following question and writing prompt: How might the poet represent himself through King Goll? How might the use of myth correspond to the use of symbolism? Write a paragraph analyzing the dominant symbols in this poem and any metaphorical relationship between the poet and character of King Goll. Consider posting your paragraph to the ENGL408 Course Discussion Board, and respond to other students’ posts.
     
    Reading this poem, answering the question above, and completing the writing activity should take approximately 2 hours.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Lecture: Yale University: Professor Langdon Hammer’s “Lecture 4: William Butler Yeats” Link: Yale University: Professor Langdon Hammer’s “Lecture 4: William Butler Yeats” (Adobe Flash, QuickTime, HTML, Mp3)

    Instructions: Watch the “William Butler Yeats” lecture. In this lecture, Professor Hammer analyzes two of Yeats’ poems: “The Song of the Wandering Aengus” and “A Coat.” Professor Hammer also proposes that Yeats, in a certain sense, identified with King Goll. Consider how Professor Hammer’s connections between the poet and King Goll compare or contrast to your own ideas about this subject that you wrote about after reading the poem, “The Madness of King Goll.”

    As you view this lecture, consider the following study questions and writing prompt: What are the most important elements of Professor Hammer’s analysis of “The Song of the Wandering Aengus” and “A Coat”? How does his analysis differ from yours? Write one or two paragraphs to summarize your thoughts. Consider posting your written response to the ENGL408 Course Discussion Board, and respond to other students’ posts.

    Watching this lecture, pausing to take notes, answering the questions above, and completing the writing activity should take approximately 2 hours.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Poetry Archive: William Butler Yeats’ “To the Rose upon the Rood of Time” Link: Poetry Archive: William Butler Yeats’ “To the Rose upon the Rood of Time” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read Yeats’ poem, “To the Rose upon the Rood of Time.” As you read, identify the poem’s formal features, its themes, and its use of symbolism and imagery.

    Reading this poem and identifying its features should take approximately 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyrights and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

  • Reading: Poetry Foundation: William Butler Yeats’ “The Wild Swans at Coole” Link: Poetry Foundation: William Butler Yeats’ “The Wild Swans at Coole” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read Yeats’ poem, “The Wild Swans at Coole.” Identify the formal features, themes, and use of symbolism and imagery in this poem.
     
    Reading this poem and identifying its features should take approximately 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: William Butler Yeats’ “The Symbolism of Poetry” Link: William Butler Yeats’ “The Symbolism of Poetry” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: After reading Yeats’ poems in this subunit, read Yeats’ essay, “The Symbolism of Poetry.”
     
    As you read, consider the following study questions and writing prompt: How is Yeats’ approach to Symbolism different from that of Baudelaire, Rimbaud, and Mallarmé? Write a few paragraphs about what Yeats is trying to achieve through Symbolism. Once you have read this essay, return to one or two of Yeats’ poems in this subunit and identify examples that support your ideas. Consider posting your written response to the ENGL408 Course Discussion Board, and respond to other students’ posts.
     
    Reading this essay, answering the question above, and completing the writing activity should take approximately 2 hours.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.3 Wallace Stevens as an American Symbolist   - Reading: Poem Hunter: Wallace Stevens’ “Sunday Morning” and “The Man on the Dump” Link: Poem Hunter: Wallace Stevens’ “Sunday Morning” (HTML) and “The Man on the Dump” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read Wallace Stevens’ poems, “Sunday Morning” and
“The Man on the Dump.”  
    
 As you read, consider the following study question and writing
prompt: What Symbolist elements do you notice in these poems? Write
a brief paragraph to summarize your thoughts, using examples from
the poems to support your ideas. Consider posting your paragraph to
the [ENGL408 Course Discussion
Board](http://forums.saylor.org/forum/english/ENGL408/), and respond
to other students’ posts.  

 Studying these poems and completing the writing activity above
should take approximately 2 hours.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Lecture: Yale University: Professor Langdon Hammer’s “Lecture 19: Wallace Stevens” Link: Yale University: Professor Langdon Hammer’s “Lecture 19: Wallace Stevens” (Adobe Flash, QuickTime, HTML, Mp3)

    Instructions: View Professor Hammer’s lecture on Wallace Stevens. Note any similarities and differences between your own analysis of Stevens’ poems and the analysis provided by Professor Hammer.

    Watching this lecture, pausing to take notes, and identifying similarities in your analysis and Professor Hammer’s analysis should take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: University of Pennsylvania: Wallace Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” Link: University of Pennsylvania: Wallace Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read Wallace Stevens’ poem, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.”
     
    As you read, consider the following study questions: What is the subject of the poem? What symbols does Stevens use? How does this symbolism affect you as the reader?
     
    Reading this poem and answering the questions above should take approximately 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.4 What Is Imagism?   - Reading: University of Pennsylvania: Dr. Al Filreis’ “Imagism” Link: University of Pennsylvania: Dr. Al Filreis’ “Imagism” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read this brief text for definitions and
characteristics of *Imagism* and *Imagists*.  

 Reading this text should take less than 15 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Wikipedia: “Imagism” Link: Wikipedia: “Imagism” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read “Imagism” for an overview of the movement as well as the publications and poets associated with the movement.
     
    Reading this article should take approximately 30 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Lecture: Yale University: Professor Langdon Hammer’s “Lecture 8: Imagism” Link: Yale University: Professor Langdon Hammer’s “Lecture 8: Imagism” (HTML)

    Instructions: View this lecture, focusing on how Professor Hammer defines Imagism and what he identifies as the most important characteristics of Imagist poems.
    After listening to the lecture and completing the reading in this subunit, write a paragraph that defines the Imagist movement, describes its main characteristics, and identifies which movements Imagism opposed. Consider posting your paragraph to the ENGL408 Course Discussion Board, and respond to other students’ posts.

    Watching this lecture, pausing to take notes, and completing the writing activity should take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.5 Ezra Pound’s Early Experiments with Symbolism and Imagism   - Reading: The Poetry Foundation: “Biography of Ezra Pound” Link: The Poetry Foundation: “Biography of Ezra Pound” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read this biographical essay on Ezra Pound. Take
notes on the text as you read about Pound’s various leadership
positions with regard to the Imagist and Symbolist movements.  

 Reading this essay should take approximately 45 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyrights and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: The Poetry Foundation: Ezra Pound’s “A Few Don’ts by an Imagiste” Link: The Poetry Foundation: Ezra Pound’s “A Few Don’ts by an Imagiste” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read Pound’s essay on what not to do as an Imagist. As you read, consider the following study questions: How does Pound define Imagism? How does he discuss the process of translating poetry? Write a brief paragraph to summarize your thoughts. Consider posting your paragraph to the ENGL408 Course Discussion Board, and respond to other students’ posts.

    Reading this essay, answering the questions above, and completing the writing activity should take approximately 1 hour.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyrights and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Poetry Foundation: Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro” and “The River-Merchant’s Wife: A Letter” Link: Poetry Foundation: Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro” (HTML) and “The River-Merchant’s Wife: A Letter” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read Pound’s poems, “In a Station of the Metro” and “The River-Merchant’s Wife: A Letter.”
     
    As you study these poems, consider the following questions and writing prompt: What do these poems express about the modern condition? In what ways does each poem’s form depart from traditional poetic norms? What is the effect of introducing references to Chinese culture in the second poem? Write a few paragraphs that describes Ezra Pound’s connection to Imagism and Symbolism through an analysis of these poems. Consider posting your written response to the ENGL408 Course Discussion Board, and respond to other students’ posts.

    Studying these poems, answering the questions above, and completing the writing activity should take approximately 1 hour.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyrights and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

3.6 H.D.’s Imagist Poems   - Reading: University of Pennsylvania: H.D.’s “Sea Rose” Link: University of Pennsylvania: H.D.’s “Sea Rose” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read H.D.’s poem, “Sea Rose.” As you read, consider
the following study questions: What is the dominant imagery in this
poem? Does the poem allow you to form unambiguous images in your
mind? Why, or why not?  

 Reading this poem and answering the questions above should take
approximately 30 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyrights and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.
  • Reading: Poetry Foundation: H.D.’s “Oread” Link: Poetry Foundation: H.D.’s “Oread” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read H.D.’s poem, “Oread.” As you read, consider the following study questions: What is the dominant imagery in this poem? Does this poem allow you to form ambiguous images in your mind? Why, or why not?
     
    Reading this poem and answering the questions above should take approximately 15 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.7 Amy Lowell’s Imagism and Amygism   - Reading: Modern American Poetry: Amy Lowell’s “On Imagism” Link: Modern American Poetry: Amy Lowell’s “On Imagism” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read Lowell’s essay, “On Imagism.” The term *Amygism*
was used by Ezra Pound in resistance to Lowell’s theories on
Imagism.  
    
 As you read, consider the following study questions: How is Amygism
both similar to yet different from Imagism? Why might Pound take
issue with how Amy Lowell describes the main concerns of Imagist
poets? Consider how Pound’s “A Few Don’ts by an Imagiste” compares
to Lowell’s “On Imagism.”  

 Reading this essay and answering the questions above should take
approximately 45 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyrights and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: American Poems: Amy Lowell’s “The Green Bowl” and “Patterns” Link: American Poems: Amy Lowell’s “The Green Bowl” (HTML) and “Patterns” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read Lowell’s poems, “The Green Bowl” and “Patterns.” As you read, consider the following study question and writing prompt: How do these poems implement or step away from the rules of Imagist poets as indicated in the essay, “On Imagism”? Write a summary about how these poems address the tenets of Imagism. Consider posting your written response to the ENGL408 Course Discussion Board, and respond to other students’ posts.
     
    Studying these poems, answering the question above, and completing the writing activity should take approximately 1 hour.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyrights and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

3.8 Marianne Moore: The Grand Promoter   - Reading: Wikipedia: “Marianne Moore” Link: Wikipedia: “Marianne Moore” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the biography of Marianne Moore for an overview of her contribution to modernist poetry.
 
Reading this article should take approximately 15 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Poem Hunter: Marianne Moore’s “A Grave,” “An Octopus,” “Silence,” “The Fish,” and “The Paper Nautilus” Link: Poem Hunter: Marianne Moore’s “A Grave” (HTML), “An Octopus” (HTML), “Silence” (HTML), “The Fish” (HTML), and “The Paper Nautilus” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read Moore’s poems: “A Grave,” “An Octopus,” “Silence,” and “The Paper Nautilus.” Note that Moore often used syllabics, the counting of syllables as a form of meter, rather than typical metrical lines; a strong example of the use of syllabics is “The Fish.”
     
    Take some time to note the characteristics of Imagism and modernism found in Moore’s poetry. Choose one or two of Moore’s poems to analyze. Consider the effects that Moore tries to achieve, and write a few paragraphs that explain your interpretation, using examples from the poem to support your ideas. Consider posting your written response to the ENGL408 Course Discussion Board, and respond to other students’ posts.
     
    Studying these poems and completing the writing activity should take approximately 3 hours.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyrights and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Lecture: Yale University: Professor Langdon Hammer’s “Lecture 17: Marianne Moore” and “Lecture 18: Marianne Moore (cont.)” Link: Yale University: Professor Langdon Hammer’s “Lecture 17: Marianne Moore” (Adobe Flash, QuickTime, HTML, Mp3) and “Lecture 18: Marianne Moore (cont.)” (Adobe Flash, QuickTime, HTML, Mp3)

    Instructions: View these two lectures, focusing on how Professor Hammer views Marianne Moore. Write a paragraph that summarizes what he identifies as the most important characteristics of her poems.
     
    As you view these lectures, consider the following study question: How does Professor Hammer’s interpretations and analysis of Moore’s poems compare to your own?

    Watching these lectures, pausing to take notes, and answering the question above should take approximately 3 hours.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.9 William Carlos Williams: Movement and Stasis   - Reading: The Poetry Foundation: “Biography of William Carlos Williams” Link: The Poetry Foundation: “Biography of William Carlos Williams” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read William Carlos Williams’ biography. As you read,
take notes about the most important turning points in Williams’ life
and writing.  

 Reading this article should take approximately 45 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Lecture: Yale University: Professor Langdon Hammer’s “Lecture 16: William Carlos Williams” Link: Yale University: Professor Langdon Hammer’s “Lecture 16: William Carlos Williams” (Adobe Flash, QuickTime, HTML, Mp3)

    Instructions: View this lecture on William Carlos Williams, focusing on how Professor Hammer characterizes Williams’ poems.

    As you view this lecture, consider the following study question: What do you see as the most important differences between Williams’ poems and the poems of other Imagists?

    Watching this lecture, pausing to take notes, and answering the question above should take you approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: William Carlos Williams’ “The Poem as a Field of Action” Link: William Carlos Williams’ “The Poem as a Field of Action” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read Williams’ 1948 essay, “The Poem as a Field of Action.” As you read, consider the following study questions and writing prompt: How are ideas presented in this essay related to Imagist theories you studied earlier in this unit? What elements are new here? Write a paragraph to summarize your thoughts. Consider posting your paragraph to the ENGL408 Course Discussion Board, and respond to other students’ posts.

    Reading this essay, answering the questions above, and completing the writing activity should take approximately 2 hours.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: University of Pennsylvania: William Carlos Williams’ “The Red Wheelbarrow” Link: University of Pennsylvania: William Carlos Williams’ “The Red Wheelbarrow” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read Williams’ poem, “The Red Wheelbarrow,” which was presented in the course introduction in comparison to Milton. As you revisit this poem, consider the following study questions: In “The Red Wheelbarrow,” the first stanza is very different from the ones that follow. What is the difference? What is the effect of this juxtaposition on the reader?

    Reading this poem and answering the questions above should take approximately 15 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Poets.org: William Carlos Williams’ “This Is Just to Say” Link: Poets.org: William Carlos Williams’ “This Is Just to Say” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read Williams’ poem, “This Is Just to Say.” As you read, consider the following study questions: How does “This is Just to Say” illustrate the principles of Imagism? What tone comes across in this poem?
     
    Reading this poem and answering the questions above should take approximately 15 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

Unit 3 Assessment   - Assessment: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 3 Assessment” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 3 Assessment” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Consider the essay prompts for this assessment, and craft an essay founded on your readings from this unit. After writing your essay, use the “Rubric for Effectively Written College-Level Essays” (PDF) to self-evaluate your writing.
 
Tips and Suggestions: If you have an ePortfolio account, then it may be beneficial to upload or link to your essay from the Work Samples section of your profile. In combination with the Study Groups function or the ENGL408 Discussion Forum, using your ePortfolio profile may be a good way to receive peer feedback on your written work. If you do not yet have an ePortfolio account, you can create one here, free of charge.
 
Completing this assessment should take approximately 3 hours.