Modernist Poets E.E. Cummings, Wallace Stevens, and T.S. Eliot Change the Face of American Poetry

Modernist Poets E.E. Cummings, Wallace Stevens, and T.S. Eliot Change the Face of American Poetry

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Modernist Poets E.E. Cummings, Wallace Stevens, and T.S. Eliot Change the Face of American Poetry


Modernist poets such as E.E. Cummings, Wallace Stevens, and T.S. Eliot changed the face of American poetry by destroying the notion that American culture is far inferior to European culture. These and other American poets accomplished the feat of defining an American poetic style in the Modern Era by means of a truly American idea. That idea is the melting pot. Just as American culture exists as a mixture of races, beliefs, and ideas, the new American style of poetry exists as a mixture of old English styles with a new concept of the international style. Modern poets experiment with language, theme, and convention to "cleanse language and culture of old and worn-out meanings, and introduce to poetry what is American in thought, sensibility, perception, observation, and diction [. . .]. [T]hey become exemplary of the modern endeavors of consciousness itself" (McQuade 1241).

An important event that caused so many Modernist American poets to invoke the international style was the "expatriate immigration." Many American writers, artists, and musicians left for Europe, looking for new inspiration and fresh starts. Among those emigrating were Eliot, Pound, Hughes, Cummings, and Frost. Once in Europe, there writers were exposed to the new avant-garde art and poetry taking place there. At this time, the writers began to draw inspiration from and to imitate European writers. T. S. Eliot began to imitate the topics and tones of the French poets Charles Bauldelaire and Jules LaForgue, the latter for his bourgeoisie satire. Eliot's poetry written while in Europe displayed a satire that was foreign to American readers. Such is seen in "Th...


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...ty at the time-to escape the expectations of a system which no longer works, to break free from the oppression of the social rank-and-file, and to gain true personal freedom.

Works Cited

Cummings, E.E. "[in Just-]." McQuade, et al. 2: 1419.

-. "[she being brand]." McQuade, et al. 2: 1421.

-. "[the Cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls]." McQuade, et al. 2: 1420.

McQuade, Donald, et al. Ed. The Harper American Literature. 2nd ed. 2 vols. New
York: HarperCollins, 1993.

-. "The Literature of Modernism: Poetry 1912-1940." McQuade et al. 2: 1233-1242.
Stevens, Wallace. " Anecdote of the Jar." McQuade, et al. 2: 1279.

-. "The Plain Sense of Things." McQuade, et al. 2: 1286.
Williams, William Carlos. "To Elsie." McQuade, et al. 2: 1304.

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