EE Cummings Modernist Poet Essay

  • Length: 3 pages
  • Sources: 2
  • Subject: Literature
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #24458150

Excerpt from Essay :

Modernist literature refers to a literary period from the first half of the 20th century, one that reacted to the external influences of an increasingly industrialized society, and one that was becoming more and more globalized. This was a population of people who had been hardened and drained by two world wars. This was a population of people who were pondering the future of humanity, human existence, the human condition and their place in the world. When compared to the romantic period, modernism appears edgier and less serene. The romantic period had more of a focus on the natural world and the experience of being; modernism focused more on the inner self, seeing more of a decline and fraught fragmentation with the external world. From a literary perspective, the period meant a subversion of typical norms: modernist prose and poetry played with structure and form in ways that readers weren’t used to and often had more ironic or edgier intentions. For these reasons, E.E. Cummings and his poetry represents the most modernist viewpoint.

One of the main and most obvious ways that Cummings represents an overt representation of modernist writing is in the manner in which he subverts traditional poetic structure. Before modernism, poetry was confined to neat lines and stanzas that
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were identical and somewhat predictable. Cummings deconstructed the stanza into something that had literally never been seen by readers before. Consider the fourth stanza from Cummings’ poem, in Just-






balloonMan          whistles


The strategic spacing the Cummings uses creates a sense of movement for the reader. The reader feels as though he or she is being taken along for some grand adventure, or a cascade down a waterfall. The same effect of an exhilarating uncertainty occurs simply with the space between “balloonMan” and “whistles.” The reader doesn’t know immediately what is going to come next so as the eyes move from left to right and sees more white space than usual, creates an enjoyable anticipation.

Another way in which Cummings is a strong representative of modernism is via the liberties he takes with word spacing, a tool that is similar to his liberties with structure. Cummings allows certain words to run together, almost so that they can create one longer, almost nonsensical word. Cummings does this in the poem in Just- when he refers to “eddieandbill” and “bettyandisbel” (Cummings). This choice can create a sense of colloquial speech within the poem, making the reader feel as if he or she is right there too. Cummings employs this device in the poem Buffalo Bill’s when he writes:

and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat (Cummings). This…

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