The Modern Age
In the last two decades of the 19th century, and at the beginning of the 20th, a state of disillusion and uncertainty would prevail. The horrors of the war, the previous positivistic faith in progress and science and the death of God, left individuals rootless and without any security. Artists would look for new forms of expression, which led to many experimentalism, in order to overcome the now obsolete culture of the past and to “Make it new!” to quote Pound. Modernism encouraged the re-examination of every aspect of existence. Many concentrated on their own subjectivity and perception, which led to the association of the perceived object with symbols and allusions.
Modern poetry developed with the Imagists at the beginning of the 20th Century, in reaction to the excesses of the Victorian poetry, and were inspired by pre-Romantic poetry. Reversing Wordsworth’s “emotion recollected in tranquillity”, Elliot stated that “poetry is not a turning loose of emotion but an escape from emotions; it is not the expression of personality but an escape from personality”. In one issue of the magazine Poetry, Pound described the essential positions of the literary movement:
1. Direct treatment of the "thing", whether subjective or objective.
2. To use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation.
3. As regarding rhythm: to compose in sequence of the musical phrase, not in sequence of the metronome.
4. Complete freedom of subject matter.
5. Free verse was encouraged along with other new rhythms, it had to correspond “exactly to the emotion or shade of emotion to be expressed”, and thus made use of alliteration and assonance.
6. Common speech-language was used, and the exact word was always to be used, as opposed to the almost exact word.