Modernist expatriates Ezra Pound and T S Eliot

The poetry of Robinson and Frost suggested one possible direction for American poets in the twentieth century: a reworking of traditional lyric forms that would require no radical break from nineteenth-century poetic convention. In the eyes of some modern poets, however, the work of Frost and Robinson did not go far enough in the direction of a stylistic, formal, or conceptual breakthrough. Poets who participated in the poetic avantgarde of the 1910s and early 1920s, such as Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, T. S. Eliot, and Marianne Moore, saw the poetry of Robinson and Frost as merely continuing an outworn tradition of verse. For these self-declared "modernists," poetry needed to undergo the same kind of transformative process that was taking place in the other arts: cubism and collage in painting, chromaticism and atonality in music, and functionalism in architecture. Further, poetry had to reflect the reality of a rapidly changing modern world, a world which the works of Frost and Robinson in large part ignored. Though Pound had been supportive of Frost's early work, by 1915 he had lost interest in the kind of poetry Frost was writing.

The world had indeed changed a great deal since the end of the nineteenth century. First of all, there was the new urban landscape and the increasing speed of communication and transportation. The construction of bridges, skyscrapers, and factories was radically altering the American landscape, while the radio, the telephone, the trolley, the subway train, and the automobile were transforming American life. Though airplanes were not yet a viable means of transportation, the flights of the Wright brothers in 1903 ushered in a new era of aerial travel, while faster trains increased the convenience of intercity and interstate travel.

The changes in consciousness brought about by these new technologies, by a devastating world war, and by crucial developments in the fields of psychology, philosophy, and the natural sciences challenged many of the underlying assumptions of nineteenth-century thought. It was in Europe, and especially in London and Paris, that American poets first came into contact with the new ideas and artistic movements of the early century, such as symbolism, cubism, futurism, and expressionism. From the time Pound first arrived in London in 1908 until the publication of Eliot's The

Waste Land in 1922, there was a constant effort by American poets to absorb and put into practice the ideas of the European avant-garde. Gertrude Stein had become an expatriate writer even earlier, having settled in Paris in 1903. H. D. (Hilda Doolittle) arrived in London in 1912, and Eliot two years later. As Pound put it in a 1919 letter to William Carlos Williams, "London, deah old London, is the place for poesy."

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