Elements of Modernist Poetry.docx - Elements of Modernist...

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Elements of Modernist PoetryRhyme SchemeSome forms of poetry follow specific rules for rhyme and meter. For example, sonnets and ballads have particular rhyme schemes that identify them as unique. The following excerpt from the poem "Something Left Undone" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow employs a frequently used basic rhyme scheme:Labor with what zeal we will, Something still remains undone, Something uncompleted still Waits the rising of the sun. By the bedside, on the stair, At the threshold, near the gates, With its menace or its prayer Like a medicant it waits;This poem is traditional; it maintains a structured form and a rhyme scheme of abab cdcd. Every other line rhymes, and each line consists of seven syllables. Just as this poem’s punctuation and grammar are formal, so are its themes. The speaker is telling of an upcoming, expected eventPoetry of the romantic era was said to serve social, religious, and other humanitarian responsibilities. Therefore, it often had a formal, predictable theme. In modernist poetry, expected events almost always turn out to be a mirage, forcing one to deal with the harsh realities of life. The positive aspects of events turn out to be figments of a person’s imagination.In the modernist literary movement, poets began to experiment with rhyme and rhyme schemes. They varied the number of syllables in a line and used unique rhyme schemes or no rhyme at all. Modernist poets also experimented with different forms of rhyme, including internal rhyme and slant rhyme, or near rhyme.Acclaimed modernist poet T. S. Eliot manipulates rhyme scheme in "Rhapsody on a Winter Night":
The street lamp sputtered,The street lamp muttered,The street lamp said,"Regard that womanWho hesitates toward you in the light of the doorWhich opens on her like a grin.You see the border of her dressIs torn and stained with sand. . .”The rhyme scheme used here is aabc defg. The first stanza shows some pattern, but each line of the second stanza has a different ending sound. The inconsistent rhyme scheme between stanzas is a characteristic of modernist poetry. Some modernist poets didn’t use a rhyme scheme at all, instead writing in free verse. This technique eliminated rhyme and meter and allowed poetry to flow naturally, more like everyday speech.Irony and ModernismAuthors use irony for a variety of reasons, including humor and to show inconsistencies andunexpected outcomes. Modernist writers often used irony to show the discrepancies between what is expected and the realities of life, as in this work by early modernist poet Edwin Arlington Robinson: Dear FriendsDear Friends, reproachme not for what I do, Nor counsel me, nor pity me; nor say That I am wearing half my life away For bubble-work that only fools pursue.

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