Tenets in Modernism Literature Term Paper

Pages: 6 (1860 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  Level: College Sophomore  ·  Topic: Literature

Tenets

Lawrence and Derek Walcott: Tenets of Modernism

David Herbert Richards Lawrence (1885-1930) was an English essayist, literary critic, playwright, novelist and poet who published under the name DH Lawrence. Many of Lawrence's writings reflect his ideology regarding the adverse impact and dehumanization that occurs with industrialization and modernity; describing issues such as instinct, spontaneity, vitality and health (Poplawski 1995). Subsequent to years of war, Lawrence went into voluntary exile, which he called his "savage pilgrimage." Because of the stand DH Lawrence took in his life as well as his art, he was frequently the subject of censorship, misinterpretation, and persecution. There were those who understand Lawrence and his determination to write what was most important to him and reflected his innermost thoughts and philosophies regarding life. This recognition was memorialized in his obituary notice articulated by English novelist E.M. Forster, "The greatest imaginative novelist of our generation" (Eagleton 2005, p. 259). Although DH Lawrence is most widely recognized for his novels, he is credited with more than 800 works of poetry including "Piano," "Snake," "The Horse Dealer's Daughter" (Ross & Jackson 1995).

Derek Alton Walcott, born 1930, is a renowned Saint Lucian playwright, visual artist, playwright and poet. For Walcott's family, being Methodist, was challenging on the island where Catholicism and Catholic culture was dominant. Derek Walcott is known a modernist poet, whose first poetic work "The Voices of St. Lucia" was published when he was 14 years of age (King 2000). Walcott studied as a writer and is said to have been significantly influenced by such writers as Ezra Pound and T.S. Elliott. Themes noted as familiar in Walcott's writings include spirituality and Methodism, commenting, "I have never separated the writing of poetry from prayer. I have grown up believing it is a vocation, a religious vocation" (Burnett 2001). In his illustrious career, Walcott has written many notable plays, and poems to include "A Far Cry from Africa," "The Glory Trumpeter," and "Midsummer." Derek Walcott was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Literature in 1992. He was the first Caribbean writer to receive such a prestigious award (Baugh 2006). Both DH Lawrence and Derek Walcott rivaled against the status quo of traditional poetic parameter. They spoke in a voice that continues to be recognized as intrinsic to the work of prolific poetry that transcends time and generations. Following is a critical analysis as to the modernist tenets each poet bespoke in some of their most familiar works.

D.H. Lawrence

In DH Lawrence's "Piano" provides a reflective look at a history he longs for and seriously misses. Sitting at the foot of his mother who sand to him while playing the piano, brings back pleasant memories but also memories of her absence and the absence of that time they shared together. Lawrence describes fond memories of his childhood against the foreground of the demise of his adult life, and how weeping for his mother and the sorrow the memories brings, can in essence bring a grown man to tears.

"Snake" is a piece of poetic work by Lawrence that depicts the internal struggle between man's natural intuition and man's instruction derived from society. Snake looks at the conflict man has internally in comparison to the conflicts that are placed upon man by greater society. In the poem, the man, leaving his home, is confronted with a snake. The writer paints a dreamlike sequence of events wherein he faces what he thinks is truth compared to what other men have told him to be truth and reality. The colors of the snake are poignant and represent the strength of nature; not hiding and being camouflaged in by nature, but standing proud and visible to be clearly seen and observed. This snake is venomous as well, implying that man's nature has its own self-defense to ward off ills that may come as a result of greater society.

The man feels a sense of honor in facing nature in its rarest form. Conversely, he hears the voices of other men indicating that he needs to respond to the presence of the snake; not with honor, but to strike out and kill the snake. His manliness is determined by his willingness to and efforts that kill the snake, although he feels no compulsion to do so. The man regards the snake as an equal being that deserves to live. Although men see his willingness to allow the snake to live as a flaw, the man himself sees his hesitancy to kill as strength. Lawrence skillfully uses this imagery, with the pronounced use of the letter "s." Although he hears the voices of society and the other men indicating the choice he should make, in the end, after a halfhearted attempt and bend to society's will, the snake lives; leaving the man feeling as if he has sinned against nature itself.

"The Horse Dealer's Daughter" can be described as a classic story of boy meets girl. On the surface, the plot is reminiscent of a number of traditional romantic discourses wherein a country boy saves the life of a country girl, and in so doing she sees something in him she has never seen before, and at the end of the story there is a promise for happily ever after. However, the imagery Lawrence creates is in no way traditional because he incorporates psychological underpinnings in the characters that surprise and defy expectation. Mabel, the lead female character in the story, has recently come into the knowledge that her family has lost their money and status. Her brothers have the ability to go out into the world and make a life for themselves; however, as a female, she is afforded no such liberties. The options of servitude or charity on the part of her sister are options that in no way appeal to Mabel.

There is a moment in the piece where it seems Mabel contemplates joining her deceased mother and reaching the kind of glory her mother received in death; however, Jack is introduced as the individual who can potentially save Mabel from what seems to be her predestined fate. After saving her from near drowning, the two engage in intimate relations that prior to these circumstances would have not been a consideration for Jack. He has mixed feelings of guilt, shame, perversity, and in some ways love; a rescuer's love for someone or something that is helpless. Mabel recognizes, however, that this man does not truly love her but pities her. She gives him a chance to correct her inclinations, but instead he offers marriage as a way to make amends with his own conscience. The fate and dereliction of duty that befalls the doctor overshadows any true sense of love and reiterates the lack of power Mabel has as a woman in determining her own fate.

Derek Walcott

"A Far Cry from Africa" is a poem written by Derek Walcott that elucidates the internal and external tragedies that only conflict can bring. The context for this poignant work is the civil uprising of the Mau Mau against British colonialism. With the spread of British colonies came perverse injustices to the native people of the countries and territories they "settled." The maltreatment and subjugation inflicted upon the native people was reminiscent of what colonization has been known for throughout history. But rebellion was underfoot, and the natives began to rebel against the false promises of economic equality and reparations the British continued to extol as truth. The uprising was bloody and the memories of the deaths of thousands as a result of fighting against the establishment are distinctively reflected in Walcott's work. The internal conflict for Walcott, being of English and African descent is etched through the words of "A Far Cry from Africa."

"The Glory Trumpeter" is another reflection of the conflict Walcott experienced as a man of bi-racial descent; and the external conflicts he faced by being of mixed heritage. Just as Walcott himself, Eddie the primary character lives between two worlds with divided loyalties. Eddie use to be a strong proponent of his Caribbean culture and that world so familiar to him; however, his goals and aims shifted to Americanized or westernized consumption and the power of the almighty dollar. The dream and false promises of America bewitch Eddie and at the moment he decides to move more in a westernized way, his loyal fans in essence, turn their back on him and his music. The music to them has lost something; it has lost its appeal, zest, and harmony. The music has been materialized in a way that no longer appeals to his fans sensibilities. Eddies move from proud Caribbean to aspiring for westernization also represents the plight that many faced during the process of colonization.

"Midsummer" is another reflection of Walcott's inner struggle with having left his native land for 'greater' pursuits. Midsummer reflects the ideas, culture, philosophy and ideologies the writer seems to long for from his country of old. Again he is caught between the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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