On Modernism and Carl Sandburg’s Poetry Essay Sample

8 August 2017

The period of modernist literature started in the 19th century as a consequence of assorted events. The oncoming of the two World Wars every bit good as the rise of many philosophical and psychological thoughts and instructions all filtered into the manner literature is viewed. The influences of Friedrich Nietzsche’s “God is dead” creed. Sigmund Freud’s position of the unconscious as a beginning of significance. and Karl Marx’s impression that the consciousness is predetermined by socio-historical factors all contributed to the new manner of authorship and looking at literature ( Leitch. 14-20 ) . Some of the features of modernist literature are atomization and discontinuity. complex linguistic communication with much allusiveness and sarcasm. experimentation of signifier. and anti-realism and concentrate on the person. This paper aims to read some of Carl Sandburg’s poems—“Chicago. ” “The Harbor. ” “Fog. ” “Cool Tombs. ” and “Grass”—in the visible radiation of modernism. It besides intends to construe and elaborate on the above properties of modern literature in Sandburg’s poesy.

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After much slaughter and desolation brought by the two World Wars. the people are left feeling misplaced and disoriented in the society. which they thought before to be a secure and stable 1. This supplanting felt by the people is mirrored in the plants of literature produced during this clip. Modernist literature is “marked by a interruption with the sequential. developmental. cause-and-effect presentation of the ‘reality’ of realist fiction toward a presentation of experience as layered. allusive. discontinuous” ( Lye. n. p. ) . The sudden displacement of the people reality—from stableness to uncertainty—after the wars is represented by a literature full of discontinuity. displacements. and sheathings.

In Sandburg’s poesy. this discontinuity can be seen through his apposition of two contrasting images. In “The Harbor. ” he juxtaposed the image of “women [ with ] hunger-deep eyes / Haunted with shadows of hunger-hands” in “huddled and ugly walls” with that of “Masses of great grey wings / And winging white abdomens / Veering and wheeling free in the open” ( Sandburg. n. p. ) . The former image is that of imprisonment—imprisonment both physically. within the restraints of the “huddled and ugly walls. ” and metaphysically. within the appreciation of hungriness and agony. The latter image. on the other manus. symbolizes freedom like those of a “fluttering storm of chumps. ” The conditions of both groups are even more highlighted as they are placed side by side with each other.

Tightening of signifier is besides a characteristic of modernism. “An accent on coherence. interrelation and deepness in the construction of the aesthetic object and of experience. ” tightening of signifier is shown through motive. important analogues ; different voices ; every bit good as displacements and sheathings in clip. topographic point. and position ( Lye. n. p. ) . An illustration of important correspondence in Sandburg’s poesy can be found in the verse form “Fog. ” where the fog is compared to a cat that “comes / on small cat pess / It sits looking / over the seaport and city” ( Sandburg. n. p. ) . Both can travel softly. go throughing through everything in silence. before traveling to another topographic point.

Tightening of signifier can besides be illustrated in the motive that the poet or the writer uses in his work. Motif is a repeating object. construct. or construction in a work of literature ( Oxford ) . Motifs are of import because it emphasizes the point and subjects that the writer wants to portray in his work ; this enables the reader to do an accurate reading of the author’s work. The image of cool grave is a motive that is present in Sandburg’s “Cool Tombs. ” Here. he once more uses apposition with the images of Abraham Lincoln. Ulysses Grant. Pocahontas. “people purchasing apparels and food markets. heartening a hero or throwing confetti and blowing Sn horns. ” “lovers. ” and “losers” ( Sandburg. n. p. ) . These people. in malice of their differences in stature and background. all portion the same thing—all of them will return to dust “in the cool tombs” ( Sandburg. n. p. ) . The poet wanted to stress the equality that comes with decease. Peoples. regardless of who they are and what they do. will all have the same terminal: decease.

Death is merely one of the most common subjects that are present in modern literature. Partially due to the aftereffects of wars. decease became a major subject of many modern pieces of literature. Death is besides accompanied by other subjects such as “the hunt for land of significance in a universe without God [ and ] the loss of significance and hope in the modern universe and an geographic expedition of how this loss may be faced” ( Lye. n. p. ) . This loss of hope can be seen in the verse form “Chicago. ” The poem’s character became face to face with decease and hungriness in the “City of the Big Shoulders: ” as depicted in the lines “I have seen the gunslinger putting to death and travel free to kill again” and “On the faces of adult females and kids I have seen the Markss of wanton hungriness. ” However. toward the terminal of the verse form. a declaration can be seen as depicted in the lines “Bareheaded. / Shoveling. / Wrecking. / Planning. / Building. breakage. reconstructing. ” ( Sandburg. n. p. ) . The loss of hope nowadays in the beginning of the verse form is met with a promise of something better.

While decease and the loss of hope are confronted in the verse form “Chicago. ” they were tried to be concealed in the verse form “Grass. ” The grass in this verse form served to conceal the organic structures murdered in the conflicts in Gettysburg and Waterloo. in Austerlitz. Ypres. and Verdun. While the first verse form tried to happen a declaration for the job. the 2nd 1 showed a more inactive action—covering up decease as if by making so it can be forgotten. as if it did non go on. The “grass” wanted to make its work of concealing decease. these hemorrhoids of organic structures. until “Two old ages. ten old ages. and riders [ would ] inquire the music director: / What topographic point is this? / Where are we now? ’ ( Sandburg. n. p. ) .

Modern literature. specifically modern poesy. is complex. covering with assorted issues of the person within a surroundings of a tattered society ; something that Carl Sandburg was able to represent in his plants.

Plants Cited:

Leitch. Vincent. et. Al. explosive detection systems.The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism.New York: W. W. Norton & A ; Company. 2001.

Lye. John. “Some Attributes of Modernist Literature. ” 29 September 1997. Brock University. 16 November 2007 & lt ; hypertext transfer protocol: //www. brocku. ca/english/courses/2F55/modernism. hypertext markup language & gt ; .

Sandburg. Carl.Chicago Poems. August 1999. Bartleby. com. 16 November 2007 & lt ; hypertext transfer protocol: //www. bartleby. com/165/ & gt ; .

Sandburg. Carl.Cornhuskers. July 1999. Bartleby. com. 16 November 2007 & lt ; hypertext transfer protocol: //www. bartleby. com/134/ & gt ; .

A Handbook to Literature.The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Footings

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