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Poetry may make us from time to time a little more aware of the deeper, unnamed feelings which form the substratum of our being, to which we rarely penetrate; for our lives are mostly a constant evasion of ourselves . (T.S. Eliot). Introduction to Modernism and T.S. Eliot.

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introduction to modernism and t s eliot

Poetry may make us from time to time a little more aware of the deeper, unnamed feelings which form the substratum of our being, to which we rarely penetrate; for our lives are mostly a constant evasion of ourselves. (T.S. Eliot)

Introduction to Modernism and T.S. Eliot

big ideas of the modern age
Big Ideas of the Modern Age

(The “Modernist” period begins at the end of World War I)

  • WWI was an extremely brutal war. It created a generation of writers who questioned traditional values. As a result, many of them focused on social problems, a loss of belief in the old truths, and human despair.
  • Modernist writers created a “New Poetics.” They created experimental ways of writing to try to capture their observations about modern life.
t s eliot
T.S. Eliot
  • Considered the first “Modernist” poet
  • Experimented with language and form
  • Introduced scenes and concerns of everyday life into poetry
  • Wrote “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” when he was still in college
the love song of j alfred prufrock 688
“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (688)
  • Captures the emptiness, loneliness, and alienation many people experienced while living in impersonal modern cities.
  • When it was first published, the poem baffled and angered many readers because
    • Its subject matter was “unpoetic”
    • Its structure was “fragmented”
    • Its allusions were “difficult to understand”
slide5

T.S. Eliot wrote:

    • “Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.”
    • Listen to the poem read aloud. Do not try to understand everything in the poem. Try to pick out a few images, phrases, or sentences that “communicate” ideas to you.
    • Try to “see” some of the images Eliot’s words suggest. Put a sticky note next to a place in the poem where you can picture an image.
    • Try to “listen” to sounds and rhythms of the poem. Put a sticky note next to a place in the poem where you like the sounds of the lines.