Realism started as a movement that turns away from Romanticism and shows interest in science and truth. The movement strived to portray an accurate representation of reality. Another rebellion brought upon the Modernist phenomenon, a rebellion against Victorian nationalism. Instead of strict and formulated verses, modernist writers wrote in fragmented verses that represented the society at that time. Modernist writers veered towards themes of loss, alienation, and despair as it is an attempt to vanquish aspects of classic customs. E.A Robinson and Stephen Crane are excellent examples of writers in the Realist movement as Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot are excellent examples of the Modernist movement.
E.A. Robinson’s poem, “Richard Cory” is an example of a Realist poem. The speaker of the poem is a collective group, the townspeople. This is identified by using the word “we” in the second line of the poem. The townspeople stare at Richard Cory when he goes downtown. He was not classified as a person apart of this community because “He was a gentleman from sole to crown” (Robinson, line 3). This line substitutes the word “head” for crown, giving Richard Cory a feeling of royalty to the townspeople. They saw this gentleman with money as, royalty. In reality, Richard Cory had a different perception of himself, as he “Went home and put a bullet in his head” (Robinson, line 16). The real life portrayed in this poem is that not all that glitters is gold.
Stephen Crane’s poem, “In the Desert”, is a good example of Realism. Crane’s poem starts off with being in a desert. Deserts can be a reference to life itself, when it is stripped down to basically nothing. When there is nothing, it is easy to get lost in. The speaker comes across this creature eating his heart and he asked, “Is it good, friend?” (Crane, line 6). The creature replied that it was bitter and he enjoyed it “because it is my heart” (Crane, line 10). Through this highly vivid poem, Crane shows that the only thing that is worthy of possession of humans, that has any value when stripped to the core, is a beating heart. This message is highly relevant because the ever-growing society is absurdly materialistic.
Ezra Pound’s poem, “In A Station by the Metro”, is an example of a Modernist poem. This two-lined poem is a perfect example of how fragmented it id is that rebels against a formulated verse. The two lines are simply what the speaker sees the world as in that moment, he sees the “apparition of these faces in the crowd” (Pound, line 1). From his perspective, the faces appear suddenly and disappear as quickly. This is how a subway station is. In the second line, the speaker compares the appearing and disappearing faces to “Petals on a wet, black bough” (Pound). This line describes the setting, a dark setting, and the people are just like petals sticking to it. Pound uses a Modernist approach by eliminating verbs and only using a few words to showcase the main idea.
T.S. Eliot’s poem, ‘The Waste Land” and its first section, “The Burial of the Dead” is a product of Modernism. This poem is a product of Modernism because of its broken form. Eliot makes the poem seem highly unstable by making it seem as if every thought is not finished. This is seen in almost every line, starting with the first line, “April is the cruellest month, breeding” (Eliot, line 1). By using this method, Eliot suggests that classic art forms do not bring the same sense of certainty and closure as they once did. The despair in the second line, “Lilacs out of the dead ground, mixing” (Eliot, line 2) makes an image that would normally be lovely and happy into an image of darkness and sadness by using the word “dead”.
Stephen Crane and E.A. Robinson are Realist writers because their poems are examples of real life. Robinson demonstrates in “Richard Cory” that people will have a different perception of themselves than what they are seen as from another person’s perspective, and it can be dark. Crane displayed the real and sad truth about human beings, that the only thing that really keeps humans alive is their lonely, beating heart. T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound are Modernist writers because they use modernist techniques that show life just how it is, fragmented.
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