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Friday, August 13, 2021

Literary Schools and Movements | English Poetry

The term 'school' refers to a group of people sharing and reflecting similar ideas and methods by adhering to a typical style and propagating some common principles  and theories. It might be inspired and influenced by some person or philosophy of some school of thoughts. 

In English Poetry, there have been many literary groups or schools of poets who adhered to their principles and showed their originality as well. Their literature reflects some striking features, style and mood of their writing. Sometimes, their works represent their age and impart a message of their doctrines.
Similarly, the term 'movement' implies a new development in literary technique, interest, thought and principles.

Some literary schools and movements had their own literary magazines and periodicals professing the ideologies and principles of the schools and movement which stood against the existing vogue in the literary arena.     

Literary Schools and Movements
Literary Schools and Movements

Major Groups and Movements in English Literature

Metaphysical Poets:

The term “metaphysical” has been used to describe the special characteristics of the poetry of John Donne and his followers in the 17th century. John Dryden first used this term in connection to the poetry of John Donne and the same was confirmed by Dr. Samuel Johnson. 

Literally, ‘Meta’ means beyond and ‘physics’ means physical nature. ‘Meta’ is a prefix to the Greeks. It was used after Aristotle’s work on physics. Now it is a term generally applied to a group of 17th century poets like John Donne, George Herbert, Henry Vaughan, Thomas Carew, Cleveland and Richard Crashaw.

The term 'metaphysical' implies a process of dry reasoning, a speculation about the nature of universe, the problems of life and death etc. it is much concentrated with emotion and personal experiences. R.G. Cox observes that it communicates a unified experience and stresses imaginative presence and intensity.

Watch a video: Metaphysical Poetry 

The Spenserian Poets:  

The School of Spenser was a group of the early seventeenth century poets who were highly inspired by the great poet Edmund Spenser. The Spenserian poets followed the footsteps of Edmund Spenser. They composed some superb pastorals, allegorical poems which were tinged with sensuousness, melody and music. 

These poets were also influenced by the sixteenth century French protestant poet and courtier, Guillaume de Salluste du Bartas who composed his famous creation epic, “La Semaine” in 1578. His creation epic was translated into English by Joshua Sylvester in 1605-06. The Spenserian poets can be deemed as a bridge between the two great puritan poets of the English Renaissance, Edmund Spenser and John Milton. 

The School of Spenser comprised some renowned poets such as George Wither, William Browne, Phineas Fletcher, Giles Fletcher, William Drummond of Hawthornden, Sir John Davies, and Sir William Alexander

George Wither, one of the followers of Edmund Spenser, composed many beautiful pastorals which contained freshness and charm of the English countryside with fine pictures of nature. George Wither’s poems make the readers recall the poetry of Lake Poets of the Romantic era. George Wither’s caustic satire “Abuses Stripped and Whipped” appeared on the literary scene in 1613 for which he was imprisoned in the Marshalsea. 

During his imprisonment, George Wither composed a famous poem, “The Shepherd’s Hunting” which is a sequel to William Browne’s poem “The Shepherd’s Pipe” published in 1614. George Wither’s poem “The Shepherd’s Hunting” was published in 1615. He also produced the elegy “Fidelia” in 1615. It is a poetic epistle sung by a lovelorn nymph. It was reprinted in 1619. The elegy was included in Thomas Percy’s collection “Reliques of Ancient English Poetry” published in 1763.

Another bitter satire of George Wither is “Motto” for which he was again imprisoned. It was published in 1621. But the most remarkable work of George Wither is “Hymns and Songs of the Church” which can be considered as ‘the first hymn book in the English language.’ It was published in 1623. 

It is important to note that George Wither was involved in a controversial quarrel between the playwrights which is known as ‘War of the Theatres’. He was criticized by Ben Jonson as Chronomastix in his masque “Time Vindicated” published in 1623

William Browne was another major poet of the Spenserian School of Poets who adroitly painted the scenery of Devon and revealed the beauty of nature in his series of pastorals known as “Britannia Pastorals”. It was written in three volumes. The first collection appeared in 1613 and the second was published in 1616. The third one remained unfinished and published in 1852. 

William Browne was a keen observer of nature who recorded each detail with great ease and skill. The influence of Browne can be seen on Milton’s famous poems “L’Allegro” and his finest elegy “Lycidas”. William Browne’s famous poem “The Shepherd’s Pipe” appeared on the literary scene in 1614

But the influence of Edmund Spenser is more apparent in the literature of Phineas Fletcher. He composed an allegorical poem “The Purple Island, or the Isle of Man” which was published in 1633. It was influenced by Guillaume de Salluste du Bartas as well. The poem at first appears as a physical allegory which later on turns into a moral lesson: a clash between vices and virtues. It is an account of the human body and mind. Phineas Fletcher produced “Piscatorie Eclogues” in 1633 which present the fisher boys on the banks of the river, Cam

Like his elder brother Phineas, Giles Fletcher was also the member of Spenserian group of poets. He produced his famous poem “Christ’s Victory and Triumph in Heaven, and Earth, over; and after Death” in 1610. There is a fine interplay of imagery and melody in the poem. Giles Fletcher’s poem can be considered as a bridge between Spenser’s famous epic poem, “Faerie Queene” and John Milton’s epic “Paradise Regained”. The Miltonic subject-matter is artistically handled in Spenserian style by the poet. There is a fine picture of celestial bliss in the concluding part of the poem.

Émile Legouis rightly remarks, “In Giles Fletcher the spirit of Gospel reigns supreme; to him religion is the source of happiness, not of gnawing scruples and dread.” 

Giles Fletcher’s poem “Christ’s Victory and Triumph in Heaven, and Earth, over; and after Death” has been written in four cantos which depicts a clash between Justice and Mercy, the Temptation, the Passion and the Resurrection and Ascension. The poem can be called as a worthy predecessor of Milton’s “Paradise Lost”. 

William Drummond of Hawthornden, the Scottish poet and scholar produced a poem “The Rejoicings of the Forth” in 1617 which celebrates King James’s visit to his native land Scotland. His lyrics are impregnated with melancholy sweetness and his love for natural scenery. 

William Drummond of Hawthornden produced a collection of poems “Flowers of Zion” to which his poem “A Cypress Grove” later on added in 1623. The poem deals with the theme of fear of death. He also composed “Poems” which laments over the loss of his fiancée Mary Cunningham. The Hawthornden Prize for literature is perhaps the oldest British Prize established in 1919. 

Sir John Davies, one of the members of the Spenserian school, composed a beautiful poem “Orchestra, or A Poem of Dancing” which appeared in 1596. It presents Antinous’ attempts to persuade Penelope to dance with him. Some other important poems are “The Hymns of Astraea” and “Nosce Teipsum” which appeared in 1599. His poem “Nosce Teipsum” has been written in philosophical vein which deals with the nature of man and the nature of the soul. Sir John Davies also composed “Gullinge Sonnets” which are highly satirical in vein and they reflect the spirit of the poet’s time. 

Sir William Alexander, the courtier, friend of William Drummond of Hawthornden, and the Scottish poet produced a collection of songs and sonnets called “Aurora” in 1604. He wrote a long poem “Doomsday” in eight-line stanza in 1604. His tragedies on Darius, Julius Caesar, Alexander, and Croesus became rich source of John Webster’s two major plays, “The Duchess of Malfi” and “The White Devil”.

Watch a Video: The Spenserian Poets


Cavalier Poets: 

The word ‘Cavalier’ is a name applied to the supporters of King Charles I in the Civil War of the seventeenth century. The English Civil War of 1642 to 1664 or Great Rebellion was activated by religion. Charles I tried to impose bishops on the Scottish Church, and the Presbyterians refused to accept them. 

Some poets gave their support to Charles I, they are known as Cavalier poets. They were soldiers, courtiers and, of course, poets. Cavalier poetry is a term applied to the lyrical poetry of which there was a remarkable outburst during the reign of Charles I. 

The group of the Cavalier poets comprised the principal poets such as Robert Herrick, Thomas Carew, Sir John Suckling, and Richard Lovelace. The Term ‘Caroline’ refers to the writers of the period of Charles.


Sons of Ben:

The Cavalier poetry showed the twin influence of John Donne and Ben Jonson. The Cavalier poetry consists of argumentation using examples from all branches of learning. Most of the cavalier poets felt proud of calling themselves as “Sons of Ben” or ‘Tribe of Ben”. Many of them composed tributary verses to Ben Jonson as they did to John Donne.

Watch a video: Cavalier Poets 

Country-House Poems: 

The country-house poems can be deemed as a kind of topographical poem with local colour which enjoyed popularity for a short period in the seventeenth century. The poems are pregnant with the description of the rural areas with the adulation of the benevolent and hospitable patrons of the estates. The poets also praised the family of their patrons and its rich history in the course of the poems. The country-house poems were composed on some great occasion on which the poet praises his aristocratic patron in the style of Roman Classical writers. 

Emilia Lanier, or Lanyer, a member of Italian family, produced her country-house poem “The Description of Cookeham” in 1611.  It is perhaps the earliest example of the genre. In “The Description of Cookeham”, Emilia Lanier has paid tribute to her patron Margaret Clifford, countess of Cumberland and praised the qualities of her daughter, Anne Clifford, countess of Pembroke. According to A.L. Rowse, Emilia Lanier was the ‘dark lady’ of William Shakespeare’s sonnets. 

Ben Jonson’s “To Penhurst” can be considered as the finest example of a country-house poem. In the poem “To Penhurst”, Ben Jonson has adulated the fertile landscape, lush-green parks, the virtues of the whole household and generosity and hospitality of his patron Sir Robert Sidney, younger brother of Sir Philip Sidney

The poem “To Penhurst” is modelled on the Latin poems by Martial and Horace. Ben Jonson’s “To Penhurst” was published in a collection of poems called “The Forest” in 1616. The poet’s joy finds expression in his depiction of his warm welcome by his patron, Sir Robert Sidney at Penhurst in Kent. 

Ben Jonson finds affinity between modern aristocracy and the idealized patrician patrons of the ancient Roman poets due to the elegance and generosity of his patron. Ben Jonson has expressed his joy at the hospitality of the patron at Penhurst in the following lines:

“Where comes no guest, but is allow’d to eate,

Without his feare, and of the lord’s own meate:

Where the same beere, and bread, and self-same wine.

That is hos Lordships, shall be also mine.

And I not faine to sit (as some this day,

At great men’s tables) and yet dine away. 

Though Ben Jonson has adulated his patron and his family in “To Penhurst”, it is not sycophantic eulogy.  

Thomas Carew produced his country-house poem “To Saxham” in 1640. It is written in the style of Ben Jonson. Like Jonson, Carew has praised the hospitality of Sir John Crofts, the owner of the Saxham estate. 

Andrew Marvell’s country-house poem “Upon Appleton’s House” is a quintessence of a country-house poem which was published in 1652. The poem contains 776 lines and it is perhaps the longest country-house poem in English language. When Andrew Marvell was in service of his patron Thomas Fairfax, he was appointed as a tutor of Thomas Fairfax’s daughter, Mary Fairfax

Marvell has paid tribute to his master in Jonsonian style. But there is slight difference between Jonson’s poem “To Penhurst” and Marvell’s poem “Upon Appleton’s House”. The narrator of Jonson’s poem finds peace, harmony and order at Penhurst whereas the narrator of Marvell’s poem observes disorder and unrest beyond the premises of Appleton House. 

Watch a Video: Country-House Poems

Graveyard School:

During the 18th century, the ‘graveyard school of poets’ or 'Churchyard poets' appeared on a literary scene. These graveyard poets were influenced by English romanticism and the Gothic literature. Their poetry deals with themes of life, death, and life after death and immortality along with a sense of loss and mutability of life in meditative and melancholy tone. 

Some of the members of this graveyard poetry were Thomas Parnell, Thomas Gray, Edward Young, Robert Blair, Oliver Goldsmith, Christopher Smart etc. the graveyard school has also been termed as churchyard school; it was not an organized group of poets. 

Thomas Parnell’s “A Night-Piece on Death” appeared in 1721 inspired many poets who set their poems in churchyards. The poem was appreciated by Oliver Goldsmith and Dr. Samuel Johnson for its ‘easy sweetness of diction’. 

Edward Young’s “Night Thoughts on Life, Death and Immortality” or “The Complaint” comments on the mutability of life, it was inspired by the death of his wife. The poem was published in 1742. 

Robert Blair’s “The Grave” expresses horrors of death, the solitude of the tomb, the pains of loss, and the madness of suicide. It is important to note that William Blake illustrated Edward Young’s “Night Thoughts on Life, Death and Immortality” and Robert Blair’s poem ‘The Grave’. 

Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Church-Yard” is another fine example of a graveyard poem in which the poet expresses his sorrow for simple, unnamed village people who lie buried in a quiet church-yard, probably in the village Stoke Poges. The poem was published in 1751. 

In this elegy, Thomas Gray talks not of the greatness of these people but of their simplicity and their ordinariness. Thomas Gray reflects on the obscure destinies of the rural rustics but he also talks about the safety that obscurity granted them. 

Lake Poets:

The terms ‘Lake Poets’ came into being with the clash between the two ideologies: Classical and Romantic or conservative and radical. As a result, the critics were also split into two groups: the conservatives and the radical. There occurred fundamental change in both prose and poetry. The French Revolution also stirred up the whole atmosphere. 

The term “Lake Poets” was also in vogue due to Thomas De Quincey’s work “Recollections of the Lake Poets” which appeared in 1834. 

Thomas De Quincey spent some time in the Lake District with William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy Wordsworth. Thomas De Quincey denied the existence of any such school of poets called “Lake School”. 

In his work “Don Juan” Lord Gordon Byron alluded to the romantic poets as “Lakers”. It is to be noted that these poets had no common objectives, though Wordsworth and Coleridge worked together for some time.


It was in the “Edinburgh Review”, the term ‘Lake Poets’ was employed for the romantic poets like William WordsworthSamuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey. The name of Thomas De Quincey has also been added to this group of poets. These first generation romantic poets were addressed as the ‘Lake Poets’ because they were residing in the Lake District in northwest of England. 

The romantic poets were very much under the spell of all these upheavals in political and social spheres of life. Common man became the center of attraction. A lot of poets also contributed to the development of prose also. The Augustan literature had charm, grace and lucidity but it lacked colour, variety and warmth. It was highly intellectual but it did not appeal to the common man of the nineteenth century. 

With the Romantic Movement, the element of passion and feeling were emphasized in both prose and poetry. In the Romantic literature, the reader can find a fine blending of harmony and complexity of structure in prose. These prose writers, who were also great poets, were associated with different magazines and reviews of the time. 

Francis Jeffrey, the editor of the Edinburgh Review, called the romantic poets as Lake Poets contemptuously and sarcastically in one of his articles in The Edinburgh Review. He criticized the romantic writers, especially William Wordsworth. 

Francis Jeffrey’s poetic taste was conservative or Classical, he did not like the radical thoughts of the romantics. He was highly unkind to the romantic poets and so he lashed the romantic poets in his article. Francis Jeffrey attacked William Wordsworth’s famous work “The Excursion” which was to become the second book of the great work The Recluse". 

When William Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy settled in Dove Cottage at Grasmere in the Lake District in 1799, Dorothy began "The Grasmere Journal" which vividly presents the account of their life at Dove Cottage between 1800 and 1803. Dorothy has expressed her love of beautiful and mesmerizing landscape, seasons, and weather. 'The Grasmere Journal' gives information about their life.         


Thomas Love Peacock had also expressed his contempt for the romantic poets. He was quite ironic while commenting upon these writers. He criticized them with irony and parody. 

The Cockney School: 

It is a derogatory term applied in the “Blackwood’s Magazine to a group of some romantic writers comprising John KeatsWilliam Hazlitt and Leigh Hunt. They were criticized due to their poor taste in usage of diction and rhyme which could sound melodious only to a Cockney ear. 

The Blackwood magazine attacked the second generation romantic poets as: “The Cockney writers are by far the vilest vermin that ever dared to creep upon the hem of the majestic garment of the English muse.” 

The sharp attack indicates the Tory view that those of low breeding would inevitably embrace cockney politics and produce cockney verse. The Cockney poets were primarily resided in London and they employed false rhymes in their works. 

It was in 1817John Lockhart started a sequence of attacks on the Cockney School of Poetry; particularly Leigh was targeted. Leigh Hunt Published John Keats’ work in the radical journal “The Examiner” and he continued to support Keats. John Keats and William Hazlitt were also mocked at by the Blackwood's Magazine. 

The younger poets were often compared with the great romantic poets of the period. Leigh Hunt was sarcastically teased for his low habits. The poets were called as “Vilest Vermin” and it described them of the ‘extreme moral depravity’.


John Keats’s “Endymion” was brutally attacked in the Blackwood’s magazine in 1818. Even after Keats’ death, he was described as a man ‘who has left a decent calling: pharmacy, for the melancholy trade of Cockney Poetry.’ After the publication of Keats’ “Endymion”, it was criticized by John Lockhart as ‘calm, settled, imperturbable drivelling idiocy’. 

Owing to Lockhart’s venomous language, he was nicknamed as “The Scorpion”. Lockhart castigated the poets as ‘the low born Cockney School of poetry' and treated their works disdainfully, though he didn’t criticized William Wordsworth and Coleridge in Blackwood's Magazine. 

Keats’ “Endymion” was also harshly criticized by John Croker in 1818 in the "Quarterly Review". It is still said that John Croker’s review hastened the death of the poet. 

But Croker’s remarks on Keats’ “Endymion” are not as poisonous as Lockhart’s comments in the Blackwood’s Magazine. There is some justice in his comments on the versification and diction of Keats’ early work. 

Thus, both the terms 'Lake Poets' and 'Cockney School' are employed in the reviews of that time which were quite sarcastic about the romantic poets due to their different ideology and principles.

Watch a video: Lake Poets and Cockney School of Poets

Kailyard School:

In the last decade of the 19th century, a group of Scottish writers depicted the manners and life of Scottish peasantry with realistic touch. Their novels were tinged with sentiment and humour in Scottish dialects. 

This group of novelists is known as ‘Kailyard School’. The major writers of this group were James Matthew Barrie, Ian Maclaren, S.R. Crockett, and George Douglas. The novelists of the Kailyard School produced their novels with romantic and idyllic settings. 

The term ‘Kailyard’ literally means a small cabbage patch at the back of a village house. But why it should be called the ‘Kailyard School’ is still a mystery. The term was first employed by J.M. Miller in an article. In his book of short stories called “Beside the Bonnie Brier” in 1894, Ian Maclaren has alluded to the Jacobite song ‘There grows a bonnie brier bush in our kailyard’. 

James Barrie produced Scot dialect stories “Auld Licht Idylls” and “A Window in Thrums” which present simple village life of the rural rustics. James Barrie’s “A Window in Thrums” is based on his hometown of Kirriemuir. 

S.R. Crockett belonged to the Kailyard School of novelists. He produced some remarkable works such as “Mad Sir Uchtredofthe Hills”, “The Black Douglas”, “The Stickit Minister and Some Common Men”, and “The Lilac Sunbonnet”. 

George Douglas Brown bitterly criticized the ‘Kailyard idylls’ of Scottish village life in his novel, “The House with the Green Shutters”. The novel is set in a fictitious town Barbie which resembled to his village of Ochiltree. It deals with the rise and fall of John Gourlay, a tyrannical business man; and his inability to adapt to changes. 

The novel “The House with the Green Shutters” makes the readers recall Thomas Hardy’s novel “The Mayor of Casterbridge” and Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel “Weir of Hermiston”.

Watch a Video: Kailyard School and Dymock Poets 

Spasmodic School:

The term “Spasmodic School” has been employed by the Scottish critic and poet William Edmondstoune Aytoun in relation to a group of minor poets who became famous in England and America between 1840 and 1860

This spasmodic group comprised members such as P.J. Bailey, Sidney Dobell, Alexander Smith and J.W. Marston. It was Charles Kingsley who described their works as ‘spasmodic’.


The spasmodic were criticized in the Blackwood’s Magazine. The spasmodic poets expressed the emotional turmoil through their poetry in a style of Lord Gordon Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley. The term “Spasmodic School” has also been employed in order to describe intense emotional outburst. 

The spasmodic poets belonged to lower class backgrounds; they were encouraged by the Scottish critic Gilfillan in attaining their poetic goals. Alexander Smith’s “A Life-Drama”, Sidney Dobell’s “Balder” and “The Roman”, and P.J. Bailey’s epic drama “Festus” enjoyed popularity. The works were composed in bombastic and extravagant style with loose and informal structure. 

The spasmodic literature reflects intense interior psychological drama in violent and forceful style. The works are marked by obscurity and extravagant imagery. The language and imagery is highly influenced by John Keats, Alfred Tennyson and William Shakespeare. There is blending of sexual and political radicalism and the works have strange setting. They throw much light on the hero’s isolation and disillusionment. 

Although spasmodism was not much appreciated especially after the publication of Aytoun’s parody of the genre in “Firmilian” in 1854, it influenced the Victorian poetry. The imprints of this school can be found in Tennyson’s poem “Maud” and Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s famous work “Aurora Leigh”. Matthew Arnold, A.C. Swinburne, and Arthur Hugh Clough were associated to this group of poets. 

Satanic School:

The termSatanic School’ was used by Robert Southey in the preface of his work “A Vision of Judgement” in 1821 attacking the lewdness, obscenity, and impurity of Lord George Gordon Byron’s works. 

Robert Southey attacked the younger romantic poets such as Percy Bysshe Shelley, Leigh Hunt, John Keats and Lord Byron for their being immoral and obscene both in their lives and works.


The satanic poets rejected orthodox Christianity and showed great liking for the passionate and exotic. The Satanic school of poets was often contrasted with the pious and simple life style of the Lake poets which comprised the poets William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey. In response to Robert Southey venomous attack Lord Byron produced his famous satirical parody “The Vision of Judgement” in 1822

The Fleshly School of Poetry:

The Pre-Raphaelite poets were attacked in an article in the “Contemporary Review” in 1871 by Thomas Maitland whose real name was Robert W. Buchanan

According to Robert Buchanan, the fleshly group of poets was applauding fleshliness as the supreme goal of poetic and pictorial art. They were putting much stress upon poetic expression than on poetic thought. By doing so they were giving much importance to the carnal pleasures than the spiritual purity. 

Robert Buchanan deemed the poetry of Christiana Rossetti, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, A.C. Swinburne and William Morris as morally corrupt and irresponsible, and decadent for depicting the carnal or sensual images through their poetry. The criticism of Robert Buchanan was answered by A.C. Swinburne and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.


Robert Buchanan criticised Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s famous poem “Jenny” for its obscene and sensual theme. Rossetti's poem "Jenny" describes a meeting between a prostitute and a man who spend the whole night together. The poem appeared in 1870. It is an account of a night spent in the company of a prostitute who has been described as ‘golden-haired Jenny’ by the speaker. 

In the poem “Jenny”, the speaker reflects on her position as a fallen woman and his position as her client. The poem comments on the Victorian sexual attitudes. Robert Buchanan satirized the poem due to its obscene and sensual theme. Many poems of the Pre-Raphaelite poets dealt with the subject of fallen women which were bitterly criticized by Robert Buchanan. 

Later on, Robert Buchanan altered his remarks on Dante Gabriel Rossetti in an essay “A Look Round Literature” in 1887. He stated that Rossetti employed amatory forms and images which are purely and remotely spiritual. 

Algernon Charles Swinburne was bitterly criticized Lord John Morley and Robert Buchanan when Swinburne’s most infamous volume of poetry, “Poems and Ballads” was published in 1866. 

This first volume contained many poems with scurrilous and lascivious content. It comprised the poems “Dolorus”, “Faustine”, “Itylus” and “Hymn to Proserpine”. These poems were tinged with moral conundrums. The second volume of Algernon Charles Swinburne appeared in 1878 which clearly express the poet’s resistance to Christianity. 

Swinburne's play “Chastelard” deals with the theme of Mary Queen of Scots. The play vividly reflects the poet’s non-Christian beliefs and dilemma. 

Swinburne’s poem “Dolorus” was appreciated by John Ruskin as divinely beautiful’. The poem hints at Swinburne’s interest in erotic pain. Swinburne’s poems such as “Faustine”, “Anactoria”, “Les Noyades”, and “Laus Veneris” had to face bitter criticism due to their haunting eroticism and his views on morality.


Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s painting “Found” and Holman Hunt’s “The Awakening Conscience” vividly hint at the theme of a  ‘fallen woman’.

It is important to note that Rossetti called this kind of criticism as ‘The Stealthy school of Criticism” in an article published in the “Athenaeum” in 1872

The Pre-Raphaelite Movement:  

The Pre-Raphaelite Movement asserted the freedom of art and artist from the control of society. The Pre-Raphaelite movement can be deemed as a rebirth of Romanticism. It was a revolt against Victorianism. It is a idealist movement against the materialism and didacticism. It is called Pre-Raphaelite because it infused into poetry the spirit and ideal of Italian painters before Raphael. 

The aims and objectives of this movement are to have genuine ideas, to study Nature attentively, to exclude conventional things and to produce in produce what the painters had produced in paintings before Raphael. The term ‘Pre-Raphaelite’ is more associated to painters than to the poets. 

The German painters Cornelius and Overbeck founded a society in Rome in 1810. The name of the society was “The German Pre-Raphaelite Brethren.” They gave this name to themselves because they derived inspiration from the Italian painters before Raphael. They were attracted by the paintings of the painters before Raphael. They found in their painting sweetness, depth and sincerity of feelings.


In 1848, Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was founded in England by three young painters. They are D.G. RossettiMillais and W.H. Hunt. Their aim was to return to older principles in paintings. 

Rossetti and many others were gifted writers. Their works gave rise to a literary movement. In their paintings, they advocated close study of Nature and revival of the spirit and methods of earlier Italian painters. Their aim was to infuse the same spirit into literature. 

There were some notable poets influenced by this movement. They were William MorrisA.C. Swinburne, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and Christina Rossetti.

Watch a video: Pre-Raphaelite School of Poetry


The Decadent Movement: 

The emergence of the Decadent movement can be traced in the latter half of the nineteenth century France and England. The writers of the period have been hailed as the Decadents. The term ‘Decadent movement’ was closely associated with the doctrines of Aestheticism and the French Symbolists.  It was first employed by the French philosopher Montesquieu in the 18th century. 

It is important to note that the term ‘decadence’ has not been regarded derogatory rather it denotes a new and special flavour of incipient decline and degeneration in culture, and art. This degeneration and decay in art and culture was experienced both in France and England in the latter half of the nineteenth century. 

The Decadent movement began with the publication of Charles Baudelaire’s famous collection of poems called “Les Fleurs du mal”: ‘The Flowers of Evil’ which was published in 1857 conceived a movement of the 1880s and 1890s known as ‘Fin-de Siècle”. 

Baudelaire’s collection of lyric poems “Les Fleurs du mal”: ‘The Flowers of Evil’ presents the poet’s deviation from tradition by employing uncommon forms and images. The collection contained six poems with immoral and inadequate themes hence those six poems were banned. 

Charles Baudelaire’s collection of lyric poems “Les Fleurs du mal”: ‘The Flowers of Evil’ had erotic and scurrilous subject-matter. The poems primarily deal with the original sin of man and suffering, abhorrence of oneself and of evil, fascination for death and longing for an ideal world. 

It is important to note that Charles Baudelaire’s volume of poems “Les Fleurs du mal”: ‘The Flowers of Evil’ was dedicated to Théophile Gautier. Carlos Schwabe illustrated Baudelaire's “Les Fleurs du mal” in 1900. 

The collection of poems “Les Fleurs du mal” contained the six poems with immoral and lascivious themes. They are: “Lesbos”, “Femme Damnées”: A la pâle charte, or “Women Doomed: in the pale glimmers, “Le Lethe”, “À celle qui est trop gaie” or “To Her Who is Too Joyful” “Les Bijoux” or “The Jewels”, and “Les Metamorphoses du Vampire” or “The Vampire’s Metamorphoses”.


It is important to note that Thomas Stearns Eliot alludes to Baudelaire’s poem “Au Lecteur”: To the Readers in his famous poem “The Waste Land”. Walt Whitman’s collection of poems “Leaves of Grass” and Roger Zelazny’s book “Roadmarks” are associated with Baudelaire’s “Les Fleurs du mal”: ‘The Flowers of Evil’. 

Baudelaire’s “Les Fleurs du mal” influenced Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” which deals with sensual pleasures with explicit sexual imagery. 

Baudelaire’s collection “Les Fleurs du mal”: ‘The Flowers of Evil’ left its imprints on the minds of the writers of the Decadent movement. The writers of the Decadent movement cultivated high artifice in style and they embraced bizarre and grotesque subject-matter. They were also influenced by the poetry and Gothic novel of Edgar Allan Poe

Like Baudelaire, Joris-Karl Huysmans’s novel “A Rebours”: or “Against Nature” or “Against the Grain” influenced the Decadent Movement. It was published in 1884. Joris-Karl Huysmans’s novel “A Rebours” was translated in English as “Against the Grain” by J. Howard in 1922. R. Baldick translated it as “Against Nature” in 1959. 

It is important to note that Joris-Karl Huysmans’s novel “A Rebours” influenced Oscar Wilde to great extent. The novel “A Rebours” presents a hero Des Esseintes who is representative of a decadent way of life. He adopts the unnatural, artificial and strange means in order to replace the natural. 

The hero Des Esseintes strives to create his own new world with lascivious and bizarre sensations and artifice. Oscar Wilde’s novel ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray” refers to Huysmans’s novel “A Rebours” as the “Yellow Book”.

Oscar Wilde’s novel “The Picture of Dorian Gray” contains Gothic elements. It appeared in Lippincott’s magazine in 1890. It is important to note that Oscar Wilde’s novel was not given a warm welcome. There is a description of people who look for nothing but pleasure and denying the existence of any other standard of conduct. 

Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray” is a Gothic melodrama which presents undercurrents of a morality play. It also displays the novelist’s ornamental, refined and witty style but it lacks human warmth. The novel vividly reflects Oscar Wilde’s internal conflict for it illuminates the novelist’s search for alternative moral perspectives. The novel presents the hero both as a martyr and a man who is more inclined to self-destruction. Oscar Wilde’s novel “The Picture of Dorian Gray” represents the aestheticism of the group of decadents of nineties.

It is important to note that Sir William Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan criticized the decadents and the Aesthetic movement in their opera “Patience” for their pretensions. The opera “Patience” was produced in 1881. It is said that the central character of Bunthorne is a caricature of Oscar Wilde and the character of Grosvenor represents Algernon Charles Swinburne. 

Paul Verlaine, one of the French Symbolist poets, had great influence on the group of the Decadents. His famous works are “Le Parnasse contemporain” appeared in 1866. It was followed by “Poèmes Saturniens”: Saturnian Poems at the same time. 

But Verlaine’s most famous work “Romances sans Paroles”: Songs without Words appeared in 1874 which displays the poet’s experiments with metre and it is tinged with music and melody. Another significant work of Paul Verlaine is “Art Poétique: De la musique avant toute chose”: “Music before Everything” appeared in the same year.


It is important to note that Christopher Hampton’s play “Total Eclipse” deals with a theme of intimate relationship between Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud. It was produced in 1968.   

The Decadent writers believed that art is totally opposed to nature in the biological and natural sense and standard of morality and sexual behaviour. The Decadent writers detested the fecundity and exuberance of instinctual life of nature. They cultivated a habit of using cosmetics over the natural hue of human skin, and they applied strange dressing and drugs. 

They deviated from standard code of conduct and hugged sexual experimentation in order to obtain the systematic derangement of all senses. The literature of the 1890s reflects the lassitude, ennui and satiety of their age. 

In England, the group of the Decadents comprised some chief writers such as Ernest Dowson, Arthur Symons, Lionel Johnson, Oscar Wilde, John Addington Symonds, William Butler Yeats, Richard Le Gallienne, and the other writers. 

These Decadent writers both of fiction and poetry were highly influenced by the French Symbolists such as Charles Baudelaire, Théophile Gautier, Gérard Labrunie, known as Gérard de Nerval, and Paul Verlaine. Some of the Decadent writers were also influenced by Arthur Rimbaud and Stéphane Mallarme. 

The writers of decadent movement were associated with the quarterly periodical ‘The Yellow Book’ and   an art and literature magazine ‘Savoy’. “The Yellow Book” published variety of content such as illustrations, paintings, literature and portraits. “The Yellow Book” was edited by Henry Harland. It is important to note that Aubrey Beardsley was its first art editor. 

It is important to note that Oscar Wilde’s play “Salomé” which appeared in “The Yellow Book”. Oscar Wilde’s “Salomé” deals with the seduction of Jakanaan: “John the Baptist” by Salomé, stepdaughter of King Herod Antipas. The play “Salomé” is a tragedy in one-act and it was illustrated by Aubrey Beardsley.


The play "Salomé" contained some biblical characters and it had scurrilous content. The play was banned in England but was performed in 1896. The play was translated into English by Lord Alfred Douglas. Richard Strauss produced an opera”Salome” in 1905. It is important to note that Oscar Wilde’s “Salome” was based on Gustave Flaubert’s story “Herodias”.  

The decade of the 1890s was dominated by the Decadents and Aestheticism. It is also important to note that the writers of the decadent movement were members of the Rhymers Club. 

Another important thing is that these poets of the decadent movement were under the spell of Algernon Charles Swinburne. In addition to this, the echoes of Keatsian poetry can be heard in their poetry. Soon the decadent movement enveloped the whole Europe by their strange style and subject matter and it influenced the literature to appear in the near future. 

All these factors were responsible for the constitution of the Decadent movement in 1890s. The decadent movement paid little attention to Hellenism, didacticism and philosophical vein of the Romantics and Victorian writers. It did not advocate any social, religious and political theory. The decadents tried to emancipate poetry from the bourgeois conventions in literature. 

The group of the poets of the nineties put much stress on the ornamentation of subject-matter with the alien beauty of sound. They skilfully handled trivialities with novelty in poetry. They emphasised aesthetic ideal for they were literary descendants of the Pre-Raphaelite poets.  

The poets of the Decadent movement were attracted neither by medievalism, and Hellenism nor by rationalism of their forefathers. They were worshippers of beauty and art was their religion. They looked upon Walter Pater as their prophet and ‘art for art’s sake’ was their slogan. The Decadents were fascinated by a more artificial and a more highly hued tradition. 

In England, Ernest Dowson was one of the leading members of the group of the Decadents. He contributed to a quarterly periodical ‘The Yellow Book’ and ‘Savoy’. His collections of poems were published by the Rhymers Club. In 1891, Ernest Dowson fell in love with a 12 years girl Adelaide ‘Missie’ Foltinowicz and proposed her for marriage but his proposal of marriage was rejected. The girl became a symbol of lost love and innocence in Dowson’s poetry. 

Ernest Dowson produced a volume of poetry called “Verses” in 1896. The volume contained his most famous poem “Non Sum Qualis Eram Bonae sub Regno Cynarae”. This poem is better known as ‘Cynara”. His second volume of poetry “Decorations” appeared in 1899 which contained Dowson’s experimental prose-poems. 

Dowson’s poetry displays variety of stanza and prosody. His other famous poems are “Nuns of the Perpetual Adoration” and “Carthusians”. Some of Dowson’s poems deal with the natural world such as “Breton Afternoon” and the poems “To One in Bedlam” and “Vitae Summa Brevis” are expression of ennui and world-weariness. 

According Ernest Dowson, there are other things beside elemental realities that may claim to be treated of in art. The realities of life reveal themselves in various colours of human experiences including the morbid and exotic moods. 

Ernest Dowson was the finest artist in his amatory verses. He was a poet impressionist of momentary emotions and poetry with him was the language of crisis. His poetry is more or less the feverish impression of a crisis. 

Arthur Symons a poet, critic and one of the chief members of the Decadent movement was a prolific writer. He was greatly fascinated by the French Decadent poetry that influenced his two major works of poetry known as “Days and Nights” published in 1889 and “London Nights” in 1895. 

Arthur Symons introduced French symbolism to English readers in his famous work “The Symbolist Movement in England” published in 1899.


According to Arthur Symons, the aim of decadence movement is to fix the last fine shade, the quintessence of things; to fix it fleetingly; to be a disembodied voice, and yet the voice of a human soul; that is the ideal of the decadence. 

Arthur Symons became popular as a leading member of the Decadents in his two volumes of poetry namely “Silhouettes” published in 1892 and “London Nights” in 1895. His poems are impressions as vivid as a painter’s art. In his poem “New Year’s Eve”, the poet describes his impression of the night. 

John Davidson, though he was not closely associated to a group of Decadents, produced a volume of poetry that accentuates the distinctive features of the Decadent movement. It is known as “In a Music Hall and Other Poems”. 

John Davidson's most famous works are “Fleet Street Eclogues” published in 1893 and “Ballads and Songs” published in 1894. The two volumes present John Davidson as a gifted writer of verse narrative and ballads. His famous “Thirty Bob a Week” is a monologue written in satiric vein. It appeared in “The Yellow Book”. 

Lionel Johnson was one of the members of the group of the Decadents and he was associated to the Rhymers Club. He produced two anthologies of poetry called “Poems” in 1895, and “Ireland and Other Poems” in 1897. But his most famous and significant work is his study of Thomas Hardy known as “The Art of Thomas Hardy” published in 1894. It can be deemed as Lionel Johnson’s genuine piece of sound critical work. 

Cloistral mysticism is one of the features of his poetry. Most of his poems are highly subjective in tone. His poems “Mystic and Cavalier” and “By the Statue of King Charles at Charing Cross” display charm and freedom of spirit. Many of Lionel Johnson’s poems contain phrases of rich criticism.

Max Beerbohm was also one of the members of the Rhymers Club and an associate of Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley. His only novel “Zuleika Dobson” presents life in Oxford of the 1890s. Zuleika visits her grandfather who is warden of Judas College at Oxford. All the young men are infatuated by her beauty. When their proposals are being rejected they drown themselves in the river Thames. At last, Zuleika leaves Oxford and goes to Cambridge. 

John Addington Symonds produced his famous work “The Renaissance in Italy” which competes with John Ruskin’s views on art. It was published between 1875 and 1886. The work is tinged with anecdotes and detail. 

It is interesting to note that most of the writers of the Decadent group of poets of the nineties were converted Catholics and they died young. They tried to tread on a new path which suited to them. 

The Decadents also embraced a new life-style and expressed themselves in a strange fashion though their works. The Decadent movement paved the way for the modern writers to appear on the literary scene in the twentieth century. 

Watch a video: The Decadent Movement   

Verismo Movement

The Italian literary movement “Verismo” took birth in 1880s in Sicily. It can be deemed as an Italian form of French naturalism. Luigi Capuana and Goivanni Verga laid the foundation of the Verismo in Italy. The Verist writers tried to present naked reality, no matter how ugly and dark it may be, through their works of art. They depicted poverty, squalor, violence, injustice, and suffering of the lower strata of society in their works. They wanted to bring harmony in language, style and the social class. They gave a realistic account of life of the poor and needy.

The primary aim of the Verist writers was to depict only ‘truth’ in their works by maintaining sheer objectivity. They believed in the principle of ‘unadorned reality’ which was presented in their works. Some of the chief members of the Verismo movement were Luigi Capuana, Giovanni Verga, Federico De Roberto, Luigi Pirandello, and Gabriel d’ Annunzio

Giovanni Verga depicted life of lower strata of society in Sicily through his novels. His novel “I malavoglia” presents life of fishermen. It appeared in 1881. Another famous novel “Mastro-don Gesualdo” of Goivanni Verga depicts business rivalry between an ambitious stonemason and the local rich people. Giovanni Verga’s short story “Cavalleria rusticana” appeared in 1880 which influenced the opera of Puccini and Pietro Mascagni. 

It was adapted by Mascagni for an opera. Verga has observed sheer objectivity while handling his subject-matter. There is a fine blending of literary language and popular local dialect in his works. 

It is important to note that D.H. Lawrence translated Giovanni Verga in “Little Novels of Sicily” published in 1925, and “Cavalleria rusticana and Other stories” in 1928. He also translated Guovannii Verga’s novel “Mastro-don Gesualdo” as “Master Don Gesualdo” in 1923

Luigi Capuana, one of the co-founder of Verismo movement, was greatly influenced by the French writer Émile Zola. He composed plays, stories and novels. It was Luigi Capuana who propounded the principles of Verismo movement.

Luigi Pirandello, Italian novelist, playwright, and short story writer, was highly under the spell of Verismo movement at the beginning of his literary career. His novel “L’ esclusa”: The outcast appeared in 1893-94. The novel presents a woman’s longing for freedom within patriarchal Sicilian society. Another novel “I vecchi e i giovanni”: The Old and the Young was published in 1909. It described the impact of the unification of Italy on Sicily at the end of the 19th century. 

Gabriel d’ Annunzio was also influenced by Verismo movement. His novel “Il Piacere”: The Child of Pleasure deals with the theme of European decadence. It was published in 1889. His play “Parisina” {1913} was adapted by Pietro Mascagni for his opera. 

Federico De Roberto wrote a historical novel “l Vicere”: The Viceroy in 1894; it is a family chronicle. He also produced plays such as “Il Rosario” in 1912 and “La tormenta” in 1918. 

The writers of Verismo movement writers depicted reality of the prevalent period through their works. They were, no doubt, under the influence of Émile Zola’s naturalism but their works depicted the plight of the ordinary lower class of society, especially of Sicily. The term ‘Verismo’, sometimes, applied to the melodramatic operas by Giacomo Puccini and Pietro Mascagni. 



In the first decade of the twentieth century, a new avant-garde movement named “Cubism” took birth in Paris, France. Pablo Picasso, the Spanish artist and painter and Georges Braque, the French sculptor, collagist and painter laid the foundation of Cubism in 1907. It was in vogue between 1907 and 1914. 

The term “Cubism” was coined by the famous writer Guillaume Apollinaire in 1911. It was Pablo Picasso’s arrival in Paris that heralded the beginning of a new era of an avant-garde movement, Cubism which influenced many modernist writers and artist in the twentieth century.


Some of the chief members of Cubism are Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Guillaume Apollinaire, Marcel Duchamp, Juan Gris, Jean Metzinger, Robert Delaunay, Stéphane Mallarmé, Arthur Rimbaud and Joseph Léger. 

Pablo Picasso’s experiments in painting were the core of the popular trend in art and literature called as modernism. It is important to note that the modernist art emphasized much on form rather than on content. The age-old conventions in art and literature of the nineteenth century were not useful and capable of coping up with the speed and progress of the machines and they were ill-suited to comprehend the rapidly changing face of society. 

The nineteenth century styles and conventions in art failed to connect, understand and analyse various perspectives of society. So there was a great requirement of something which would bring to mind the perspectives of contemporary life. 

In the first phase of Cubism, objects are inspected, fragmented and again rearranged in a condensed and abstracted form. This phase is referred to as “Analytic Cubism”. The fragmentation and rearrangement of objects and figures give a multi-dimensional view of the figures and objects to a viewer even if they are seen from many angles. Thus, the Cubist art presents multi-dimensional view to a viewer in a greater context rather than a single view-point of the object. 

In the second stage of Cubism, there is a process of accumulation of objects rather than fragmentation. This phase is referred to as “Synthetic Cubism” which came into being in 1912. The usage of collages is one of the features of ‘Synthetic Cubism’. 

Cubism brought immense change in the arena of art. It discarded fixed perspective and notions of things and illusionist representation.


In Cubism, there is fine blending of three dimensional views of things and the two dimensional picture plane. It also studied the relationship between signs and their referents: signifier and signified. It also checked the possibility of using the signs and their referents interchangeably. Cubism also sought to invent new referents as it was closely associated with poetry. 

It is important to note that impact of Cubist art can be seen in the works of Gertrude Stein, Stéphane Mallarmé, Guillaume Apollinaire and Arthur Rimbaud. Gertrude Stein developed a form of Cubist prose. It is interesting to find the influence of Gertrude Stein’s writing on Cubism in turn. 

Pablo Picasso and his companion, Georges Braque tried to express the fact that our knowledge of things comprises all possible views of a thing. It means that one can inspect things from all dimensions: top, sides, back and front of things. The Cubist artists condensed this process of observation and inspection of things into one moment. It is one synthesized glance at the thing. For example: 

Pablo Picasso’s famous oil painting “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon: The Ladies of Avignon” appeared in 1907. In this painting Pablo Picasso has depicted a picture of five nude whores in a brothel in Barcelona, Spain. 

Another famous painting “Guernica” of Pablo Picasso was produced in 1937. The painting has been deemed as anti-war work of art. Picasso’s “Guernica” vividly presents the destructive nature of chaos, violence, war and anarchy. The painting comprises the figures of a wounded horse, a bull, screaming women, a dead baby, a soldier surrounded by flames. 

Georges Braque, the French sculptor, painter, and collagist played a vital role in the development of Cubism. He collaborated with Pablo Picasso, and displayed his craftsmanship in presenting an architectural structure in geometric form. His painting give multi-dimensional view due to Braque’s artistic handling of shades in the painting. He had mastery over geometry, graphical and linear projection of objects. 


Georges Braque’s most famous work of art, “Houses at l’Estaque” presents a marvellous view of village houses and trees with dexterous arrangement of cubes. The painting was produced in 1908. 

Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque employed complex patterns of faceted forms, monochromatic colours and collages which made their paintings memorable. 

Joseph Léger, another renowned figure of Cubism, itroduced a new type of Cubism known as ‘Tubism’ in which objects and figures are presented in a cylindrical form. It is a simplified method of presentation of modern subject matter. 

The term ‘Tubism’ was coined by a French art critic, Louis Vauxcelles in 1911. Joseph Léger’s famous paintings are “Nudes in the Forest” and “Soldiers Playing Cards”. 

Gertrude Stein, a famous American writer, was associated with Cubism. She met Picasso when she was in Paris in 1902. She had great interest in art and paintings of the Cubist artists. During her stay in Paris, many great literary figures such as Ernest Hemingway, Ford Madox Ford, and Pablo Picasso used to gather at her home which became a rendezvous for artists and writers of the period. 

Gertrude Stein composed a Cubist prose named “Tender Buttons” in 1914 which comprises unpunctuated sentences and repetitions. She also wrote a prose portrait of Pablo Picasso in 1938.


The influence of Stéphane Mallarmé, the French poet, can be seen on the works of Cubist artist. His innovative use of syntactical and metaphorical ambiguity and typographical experimentation made his works noteworthy. The finest example of this is his poem “Un Coup de dés jamais n’abolirs le hasard”: A Throw of Dice Will Never Eliminate Chance” published in 1897. 

Arthur Rimbaud’s produced prose poems, “Les Illuminations” and “Une saison en enfer: A Season in Hell” that contained many features of Cubism. 

Guillaume Apollinaire was a staunch supporter of contemporary developments in painting and poetry. He produced “Meditations esthétiques: les peinters cubists” in 1913. 

Thus, Cubism can be considered as a mile-stone in the arena of modern art and literature which  brought noticeable change in art and it influenced many movements such as Dadaism, and Surrealism. It was an avant-garde movement in real sense. 


In the first decade of the twentieth century, a new avant-garde movement in art and literature named, “Futurism” originated in Italy; and it  was founded by an Italian novelist and poet, named Philippo Tommaso Marinetti in Paris, France in 1909

The term ‘Futurism’ was coined by Marinetti which reacted against decadent bourgeois culture and conventions of the period. Futurism projected vitality, warfare and nationalism through art. 

Some of the chief members of Futurism are Filippo Marinetti, Giocomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Luigi Russolo, and Gino Severini.


Futurism was a reaction against the anguished soul-searching of the Symbolists. In addition to this the Futurist artists also disliked belief in the absolute and put their faith in the dynamic force and speed of the machines. They abhorred the cult of beauty and mysticism. They derided the mystical posturing of poets such as Valery Briusov who stated that the poet was the guardian or prophet of the mystery. 

The Futurist believed that the primary aim of a work of art is to change our mode of perception to the artistic rather than to the practical and automatic. 

The Futurist Manifesto vividly reflected love for technology, power, speed and violence. The Futurist artists violated the rules and conventions in academic culture, art, literature and music. They did not to adhere to the rules of traditional syntax, metre, grammatical patterns and punctuation marks in language and literature. 

The Futurists were also against realism and they were interested in the nature of the devices which produce the effect of ‘defamiliarization’. 

Filippo Marinetti, one of the founders of Futurism, was a novelist and poet inspired many writers and artists of the period. In his plays, Marinetti paid little attention to traditional methods of characterization and plot-structure. He also implemented new method of using automations and staging of unrelated actions on the stage. 

It is important to note that Marinetti’s cult of machinery and warfare was adapted by Mussolini as a part of Fascist culture in Italy.

Giocomo Balla published “The Manifesto of Futurist Painting” in 1910. The Futurist artists represented nature in a new dynamic form in the paintings. 

In Russia, a branch of Futurist movement known as, ‘cubo-futurism’ began just before the First World War. It advocated the rejection of age-old conventions in art and literature. It was as iconoclastic as the Italian Futurism. They were much interested in sound rather than sense.


Vladimir Mayakovsky, the poet and artist, published the First Russian Futurist Collection of poems named, “A Trap for Judges” in 1910 in collaboration with other poets. He also produced the Futurist Manifesto, “A Slap in the Face for Public Taste” in 1912. Its primary aim was to cleanse and purify culture and literary taste of people. 

Vladimir Mayakovsky also composed a long poem named, “A Cloud in Trousers” in 1914-15. It dealt with a theme of love and fate. Several of his poems such as, “The Backbone Flute” published in 1916, “Man” in 1918, and “About That” were composed for Lili Brik whom he fell in love with. 

Mayakovsky produced two plays namely, “The Bedbug” published in 1929 and “The Bath House” in 1930. These plays have been written in satirical vein and bitterly attack the suppression of revolutionary values. He also composed a poem “At the Top of my Voice” which is tinged with sadness and melancholy. It was Mayakovsky’s last unfinished poem. 

Vladimir Mayakovsky was a leader of a revolutionary socialist group of Futurism in 1912. His works reflect a clash between the personal and the civic, between his Utopianism and his awareness of the bourgeois culture of the period.    

Another branch of Futurism called ‘ego-futurism’ took birth in Russia in early 20th century. Like other Futurists poets and artists, the ego-futurists composed poetry which was mainly subjective in tone. They were anti-traditionalist and made use of neologisms. This branch of futurism did not survive for long period of time. It is important to note that a term “ego-futurism’ was coined by the Russian poet Igor Severyanin.


The wave of Futurism could be experienced in Britain when “The Exhibition of Futurist Painting” was arranged at the Sackville Gallery in 1912. 

A number of English writers such as Wyndham Lewis, Ezra Pound, T.E. Hulme, Ford Madox Ford, C.W.R. Nevinson, and the Vorticists artists and writers were influenced by Futurism. 

Guillaume Apollinaire, the French poet was greatly attracted to Futurism. 

Broadly speaking, ‘Vorticism’ was the British version of Futurism. It is interesting to note that though it was allied to Futurism, the Vorticist group made distinction between Futurism and Vorticism in its mouthpiece “Blast”. C.W.R. Nevinson was greatly influenced by Marinetti; he observed Marinetti’s ideas at “The Post-Impressionist and Futurist Exhibition” held in 1913. 

It is important to note that David Herbert Lawrence’s famous novel “Women in Love” clearly reflects his adoration of Futurism. He also planned to write an article on Futurism but it could not be executed. In D.H. Lawrence’s novel “Women in Love”, the character named Loerke, a sculptor, is a spokesperson of Futurism. 

The Futurist movement dissolved in 1930s when Philippo Tommaso Marinetti embraced Fascist academic culture. It laid a foundation for many modernist artists and writers in 20th century. 

Watch a Video: Cubism and Futurism

Manchester School: 

The term ‘Manchester School’ has been applied to the school of Mancunian playwrights whose plays were performed at the Gaiety Theatre, Manchester between 1907 and 1914. The term ‘Manchester School’ was originally applied by Benjamin Disraeli to the political party which was under the leadership of Richard Cobden and John Bright. The political party advocated free trade. 

Later on, the term was applied to the group of playwrights linked to Miss Annie Horniman’s Company of Actors. She was staunch supporter of the ‘new drama’ of Henrik Ibsen and George Bernard Shaw. She was also the founder of the Manchester Repertory Theatre. At that time, the Gaiety theatre was run by Annie Horniman

Some of the chief members of the Manchester School are Allan Monkhouse, William Houghton, and Harold Brighouse. The plays of these playwrights were greatly influenced by Henrik Ibsen. Their plays are imbued with many scenes of court trials and tribulations. 

Some of the famous plays produced by the playwrights are William Houghton’s “Dear Departed” in 1908, and “Hindle Wakes” in 1912, and Harold Brighouse’s play, “Hobson’s Choice” in 1916. These plays have been a part of the Standard Repertoire of theatrical companies.


Dymock Poets:

The term ‘Dymock poets’ has been applied to a group of poets of the 20th century who resided in the vicinity of Dymock village from 1911 to 1914 in Gloucestershire on the outskirts of Herefordshire for some time. 

These Dymock poets adhered to traditional forms and techniques of English poetry and derived pleasure in depicting scenes and landscapes of English countryside, the life of rural rustics, and real situations. 

The chief members of this group were Rupert Brook, Robert Frost, John Drinkwater, Wilfrid Wilson Gibson, Edward Thomas and Lascelles Abercrombie

The Dymock poets expressed their thoughts in the short-lived poetry magazine “New Numbers”. It was a quarterly poetry magazine founded by Wilfred Wilson Gibson along with the other Dymock Poets in 1912.  

Rupert Brooke, one of the chief members of the Dymock poets produced war sonnets in 1914. Rupert Brook’s famous war sonnets “The Soldier” and "Peace" appeared in the “New Numbers” in 1914. 

These war sonnets of Rupert Brooke earned name and fame for him. Rupert Brooke’s famous poem, “The Old Vicarage, Grantchester” depicted life in the village where he dwelt in 1911. The poem was published posthumously in 1914. The poem “The Old Vicarage, Grantchester” has been written in simple and lucid style and in colloquial vein. 

Lascelles Abercrombie also contributed to the four issues of a quarterly poetry magazine “New Numbers” in 1914. He had great fascination for the metaphysical poetry. He composed “Interludes and Poems” in 1908 and “Emblems of Love Designed in Several Discourses” in 1912. 

Lascelles Abercrombie was a gifted writer with a fine rhythmic sense. He handled various topics adroitly. His plays “Deborah”, “Adder” appeared in 1913 and “The End of the World” in 1914 which reflect his keen interest in character-study. 

John Drinkwater, a poet, critic, dramatist and actor was one of the members of the group of Dymock poets. Most of his poetry appeared in the “New Numbers” in 1914. John Drinkwater produced nine volumes of poetry which comprised “Swords and Ploughshares”, “Olton Pools”, “Tides” and “Summer Harvest”. 

Wilfred Wilson Gibson founded the poetry magazine “New Numbers” but survived for a short period. His poetry deals with northern countryside themes.  

It is interesting to note that Robert Frost was associated with the Dymock poets. When Robert Frost visited England in 1912, he published his first volumes of poetry, “A Boy’s Will” in 1913 and “North of Boston” in 1914 which made him famous in England. 

Like the other Dymock poets, Robert Frost composed his verse in traditional style about countryside, landscapes, people, and real situations. 

As the Dymock poets were associated with the Georgian poetry, their literature reflected love of nature, quest for simplicity and reality, and their adherence to forms and techniques of the English poetry like the Georgian poets. It is important to note that these Dymock poets were associated with the Georgian poets. They had links with the Westminster Gazette


The emergence of Acmeism or; the Acmeist movement of the Russian poets can be traced in 1911 in Russia. The Acmeist movement began in 1911 with the formation of an Acmeist Guild of Poets in Russia. It heralded the birth of Acmeism in Russia.

The movement was led by two famous Russian poets, Nikolai Gumilev and Sergei Gorodetsky. The acmeist writers had a mouthpiece in the literary magazine named “Apollon” which published a number of works and theories of the acmeist school of poets. 

Group of Acemist poets: 

Some of the leading members of the group of acmeist poets were, Nikolai Gumilev, Sergei Gorodetsky, Anna Akhmatova, Osip Mandelshtam, and his wife, Nadezhda Mandelshtam

It should be noted that the Acmeists derived inspiration from William Shakespeare, François Villon, Théophile Gautier, and François Rabelais and looked upon these great poets as their forefathers. 

Characteristics of the Acmeist movement

It was a reaction of the Russian poets against tyranny, oppression and totalitarianism of the period. 

The acmeist writers put stress on brevity of thought and clarity of sensory images and texture of poetry. 

The Acmeist writers deemed the poet as a craftsman rather than a seer or prophet. It clearly indicates their moving away from the conventional image of the poet. The Acmeist poets derided the mystical idea of poets such as Valery Briusov who deemed poets as 'guardian of mystery'. 

They detested vagueness of the Symbolist mode of writing. The acmeists valued and emphasized precision and concreteness of the real world and disliked vagueness and complexity of Symbolism. 

They paid utmost attention to precision and logical use of poetic image in writing.

Contribution of Acmeist writers: 

Nikolai Gumilev, one of the founder members of Acmeism, Russian poet and critic, played vital role in the acmeist school of poets. His famous collection of poetry, “The Pillar of Fire” appeared in 1905. It was Nikolai Gumilev who formed the Guild of Poets in 1911 which was later known as School of Russian Acmeism. He light-heartedly opined in his speech that the Crown of England should be given to G.K. Chesterton

Anna Akhmatova, one of the pillars of acmeist group of poets, occupies significant place in the arena of literature. She produced her first poem in 1907 and joined the Guild of Poets in 1911. 

Anna Akhmatova’s famous collections of poetry are, “Evening” published in 1912, “Rosary” in 1914, “White Flock” in 1917, “Plantain” in 1921, and “Anna Domini MCMXXI” in 1922. All these volumes established her as a leading figure in Russian poetry and made her famous. 

Another famous volume of poetry “From Six Books” appeared after a long interval in 1940. Anna Akhmatova has recorded her bitter experiences of Stalinist era in her famous work, “Requiem” which appeared in Munich in 1963. Her work, “Poems without a Hero” presents her bitter memories of the Second World War, the Stalinist terror of the period, and an account of her life. 

Sergei Gorodetsky began his literary career as a Symbolist writer but he later on joined the acmeist group of writers. He was one of the founder members of the Guild of Poets in 1911. 

Another famous literary figure of Acmeism was Osip Mandelshtam, who played significant role in Acmeist movement. He was associated with the Guild of Acmeist Poets. He produced his first volume of poetry, “Stone” in 1913. These poems are tinged with clarity and brevity of expression. It was followed by another volume of poetry named, “Tristia” in 1922 which earned name and fame for the poet. His most famous poems are, “The Age” and “The Slate Ode”. 

Osip Mandelshtam’s third collection of poetry, known as “Poems” was published in 1928. His famous prose narrative, “The Journey to Armenia” appeared on the literary scene in 1930. It is written in subjective vein. 

Like, Anna Akhmatova, Osip Mandelshtam had to face hostility of the Stalinist government and he was imprisoned for recitation of a poem accusing Joseph Stalin. During his imprisonment, Osip Mandelshtam composed a poetry book named, “Voronezh Notebooks”.

It is important to note that Osip Mandelshtam’s wife, Nadezhda Mandelshtam played vital role in the publication of his works after the poet’s death. She composed her most famous memoirs, “Hope against Hope” published in 1970, and “Hope Abandoned” appeared in 1974. 

The two memoirs present the account of the poet’s life in detail. The memoirs also describe her bitter experience of the 20th century totalitarianism. It is interesting to note that her memoirs were published in Russia much later in 1990s

Thus, it is only due to Nadezhda Mandelshtam’s strong-will and determination, the works of Osip Mandelshtam could be published. It should be noted that the Acmeist Movement came to an end in 1921. Though it was a short-lived movement in literature, it left its imprints on the history of literature.          


The Georgian Poetry:

The Georgian poetry appeared on the literary scene between 1910 and 1922. It was a group of poets, but in no wise a school. They did not profess any doctrine. The term ‘Georgian poetry’ refers to a body of poetry composed in the reign of King George V. Edward Marsh edited the five anthologies as ‘Georgian Poetry’ (1912-1922).


The Georgian poets had differences and even oppositions; but they had some similarities and family likeness in their works. 

The Georgian group comprised some major poets such as John Masefield, Rupert Brooke, John Drinkwater, Harold Monro, James Elroy Flecker, Edward Marsh, Ralph Hodgson, William Henry DaviesEdmund Blunden, D.H. Lawrence, Walter de la Mare, Lascelles Abercrombie, Gordon Bottomley, Isaac Rosenberg, Siegfried Sassoon, Edward Thomas, Edward Shanks, John C. Squire, John Freeman, and Wilfred Wilson Gibson. 

The Georgian poets depicted the scenes of English countryside focusing on simple musical and pictorial effects. These poets displayed great originality and their notion of poetry in their poetry. They reflected naturalness, simplicity and realism through their works. 

Though the Georgian poets were inspired by the great Romantic poets like William Wordsworth and William Blake, they were free from Blake’s mysticism. They really adhered to the qualities of the Romanticism and continued to tread on the way of new Romanticism. The reader once more can hear the call of ‘back to nature’ in Georgian poetry. 

Though the Georgian poets had unique temper of their age, they are distinguished by the special characteristics of their own. 

According to Robert Graves, the Georgian poets composed poems highly traditional in form and they were devoted to ‘uncontroversial’ subjects of rural and domestic life. The Georgian poets make the reader recall the past glory and charm of artistic life which has elapsed since William Wordsworth’s age.


The Georgian poetry was a reaction against Victorianism and the poetry of the nineties. It discarded all formally religious and philosophic themes of the Victorian poetry and it also avoided sad, wicked and café-table subjects of the poetry of the nineties. 

It was pantheistic rather than aesthetic in nature. It detested the archaistic diction and pomposity of style in poetry. The Georgian poetry was contemporary with the Imagist poetry but both were based on different principles.  

John Masefield is probably the central figure of the Georgian group of poets. His poems are pregnant with lucidity of expression and vivid description which arrest the reader. The variety of his rhythms and ease and direct energy of his style acquired for him special space in the world of poetry. 

John Masefield produced “Ballads and Poems” in 1910 which comprised his famous poem “Cargoes”. His narrative poem “The Everlasting Mercy” appeared in 1911; and his poem “Renard the Fox” was set in the countryside. Masefield’s poetry is tinged with variety desolation and wildness of the sea. 

Rupert Brooke produced a fine collection of poems “Tiara Tahiti and Other Poems” which deals with his affair with a woman in Tahiti. Brooke’s famous five poems are “War Sonnets” which appeared in ‘New Numbers’ in 1914. 

Most of Edward Thomas’s poetry appeared posthumously. A few of his poems were published under the pseudonym Edward Eastaway

Like Robert Frost, Edward Thomas advocated the use of colloquial speech rhythms and natural diction in poetry. Despite the hard times and bitter experiences of the World War, nature poems were also appreciated and captured attention of reading public. 

Edward Thomas depicted the English country-side scenes in his famous poems “As the Team’s Head Brass” and “Adlestrop”. 

The poem “As the Team’s Head Brass” celebrates the service of soldiers and farmers for their motherland. His poem “Adlestrop” deals with a nostalgic memories of the past era which is lost. It also describes an incident of stopping of a train at a deserted railway station in the Gloucestershire village of Adlestrop.    

William Henry Davies’s famous poem “Leisure” gives an account of his childhood response to the natural around him. His love poems hold the same charm as his nature lyrics. His lyrics make the reader recall Wordsworth’s nature poems in which Davies has expressed his sheer joy and enjoyment in the company of nature. The lyrics are written in simple style with pictorial description of nature. His poetry affirm rural and countryside values. 

Walter de la Mare displayed some qualities of William Blake and Samuel Taylor Coleridge in his poetry. Walter de la Mare’s first collection of poems “The Listeners” appeared in 1912 which established him as a writer of poems. He also composed poems “Peacock Pie” in 1913 for children. It deals with mystery and childhood littleness in a melancholic tone. 

The melodious music of Shelley and lavishness of John Keats can be observed in the poems of Harold Edward Monro. He founded ‘Poetry Bookshop’ in 1913 with a purpose to publish and promote poetry readings. 

Most of the Georgian poetry appeared in ‘Poetry Bookshop’ edited by Edward Marsh. Harold Monro’s famous poems “Bitter Sanctuary” and ‘Milk for the Cat” became famous and they appeared in many anthologies. 

Wilfred Wilson Gibson depicted life of the rural rustics in a symbolic language with a tinge of sadness and pity. He depicted scenery of northern rural life through his poetry and his experience in the First World War has been recorded in “Breakfast”. 

Like Wordsworth, John Drinkwater perceived the presence of God as a friendly and kindly figure. His collection of poetry includes “Swords and Plough-shares”, “Olton Pools”, “Tides” and “Summer Harvest”. 

James Elroy Flecker had great fascination of the East; he produced some fantastic romantic lyrics. His famous collection of poems is “The Golden Journey to Samarkand” published in 1913. 

Ralph Hodgson’s most famous poem “A Song of Honour” that established him as a writer appeared in a collection of ‘Poems’ in 1917. 

Edmund Blunden, one of the Georgian poets, took delight in depicting the sights, sounds, smells and country-side scenes through his poetry. The readers can find Shelleyan lucidity of expression and his keen observation in his poetry. His artistic use of archaic words arouses interest in the readers. His collection of poems “Shells by a Stream” contains finest lyrics. 

In addition to this, Edmund Blunden has also produced works such as “Pastorals”, “The Waggoner and Other Poems”, “Choice and Chance”, and ‘After the Bombing”. 


Most of the Georgian poets had gone through the bitter experiences of the First World War. It is important to note that Edward Thomas, Rupert Brooke, and Wilfred Owen had first-hand experience of the First World War and they lost their lives during the war. Like these poets, a great figure of the Imagist poets, Thomas Ernest Hulme also died during the war. 

The quest for simplicity and reality, love of natural beauty and adherence to the forms and techniques of traditional English poetry made the Georgian poetry really noteworthy. 

Imagist Movement:


The Imagist movement was based on the ’aesthetic principles’ of Thomas Ernest Hulme. The term ‘Imagism’ was coined by Hilda Doolittle and Ezra Pound. The seeds of the Imagist poetry had already been sown in the lectures of T.E. Hulme before the first collection of Georgian Poetry appeared in 1912. T.E. Hulme despised the looseness of texture of Georgian poetry. 

According to Hulme, poetry should restrict itself to the world perceived by the senses and it should make use of concrete and concise images in detail and with precision. He also advocated use of verse libre (free verse) due to its affinity with everyday speech. The Imagist poetry had a mouthpiece in the periodical ‘The Egoist’ which appeared in 1914. 

Ezra Pound edited an anthology of Imagist poems called ‘Des Imagistes’ which contained poems by Richard Aldington, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, and Hilda Doolittle in the same year. 

The poetry of D.H. Lawrence, Ford Madox Ford, Amy Lowell, John Gould Fletcher, William Carlos Williams, and Marianne Moore was introduced in the following three anthologies called “Some Imagist Poets” between 1915 and 1917. The final collection of the Imagist school of poetry appeared as “Imagist Anthology” in 1930. 

The school of Imagist poetry comprised eleven renowned poets such as Richard Aldington, his wife Hilda Doolittle, Ezra Pond, Ford Madox Ford, William Carlos Williams, James Joyce, Marianne Moore, Amy Lowell, John Gould Fletcher, D.H. Lawrence, and T.S. Eliot

The objectives of Imagist poetry: 

The Imagist poets employed sequence of concise and concrete images in order to get brilliant and clear effect. They ignored the soft and dreamy vagueness of Miltonic rhetoric of the 19th century. 

They tried to reproduce poetic effects of the ancient Greek and Japanese poetry. The Japanese poetic form ‘haiku’ influenced these poets to great extent in which feelings are implied by natural images rather than directly expressed. 

The Imagist poets despised ornamentation and employed exact and apt words. They made use of concrete and precise images and neglected use of vague and abstract signs and symbols. 

The Imagist poets put much stress on the principle of liberty which could be obtained by the irregular rhythms of verse libre. They were different form the Symbolist poets.


Ezra Pound stated that where the Symbolists had dealt in association by employing allusions and allegory, the Imagist Poets made use of images like the signs in algebra. 

The Imagist poets devised new rhythms and avoided imitating the old rhythm. The Imagist poetry revolted against the contemporary English poetry for its mechanical quality of rhythm. 

Though the Imagist poetry could not survive long due to the use of concise images and verse libre which made it obscure, it has left its imprints on the modern poetry. This can be observed in T.S. Eliot’s famous poems “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and “Portrait of a Lady”. 

The readers can find a new tone of voice, and subtle use of irony along with impressive style. A sentimentality of thought is a common feature of the Georgian poets and Imagist poets which brings them together. 

T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound did not adhere to a firm style of writing. They made many experiments in their style and were frequently refining their style. Their poetry reflects the subconscious states with classical form. They tried to emancipate the Imagist poetry from the bondage of sentimentality and softness of the earlier Imagist poets. 

According to Richard Aldington, the Imagist poets were a group of ardent Hellenist who pursued interesting experiments in verse libre.

The Imagist poetry focussed on the clarity and concentration of the classic Greek epigram and Chinese lyric which were products of a highly civilized society of that time. The Imagist poets could not attain it due to different conditions of twentieth century England.

Watch a video: Georgian Poetry and Imagist Movement


The origin of Vorticism can be traced in the Imagist movement of 1914, and it can be deemed as the offshoot of the Imagist movement. The term ‘Vorticism’ has been coined by Ezra Pound who was associated to the Imagist movement. As a movement Vorticism survived for a short span of time from 1912 to 1915

Roughly speaking, it was a much developed form of Imagism. The Vorticists reacted against Victorian sentimentality; it emphasised abstract art and writing. They attempted to mingle the dynamic energy of modernity with form in art and writing. 

Though the term ‘Vorticism’ was coined by Ezra Pound much earlier in 1912, it was led by Wyndham Lewis in 1914 as a movement. The term ‘Vorticism’ denotes a new trend both in art and literature. 

Though Vorticism derived inspiration from Cubism and Futurism, it revolted against an Italian dominated movement, Futurism. The vorticists condemned the dynamism of the futurists and their ‘accelerated impressionism’. 

The Vorticist writers detested the principles of Futurism of romanticizing and glorifying the machine age. It also criticized other modern trends both in literature and art for passively recording sense impressions. 

The vorticists employed bold lines, sharp angles, and planes in abstract composition in the visual arts. Many artists and writers embraced the vorticist style to First World War issues of the period. But its real force and beauty vanished after the Vorticist Exhibition held at the Doré Gallery in 1915. 

Both C.W.R. Nevinson and Wyndham Lewis were greatly influenced by Filippo Marinetti. Like the Futurist, the Vorticists advocated diversion from symbols, syntax, metre and punctuation and they introduced a new art which represents nature in a dynamic state. 

Wyndham Lewis, Ezra Pound and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska were the founder members of Vorticism. The other chief members of this movement were Jacob Epstein, C.R. Nevinson, Edward Wadsworth, and Alvin Langdon Coburn.

The Vorticist movement had its mouthpiece in the magazine “Blast: The Review of the Great English Vortex”. Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis were the co-editors of this magazine. It published works of all the members of this movement. 

The magazine “Blast” tried to bring together artists and writers of the English avant-garde. Ezra Pound’s views on the image and symbolism appeared in the magazine “Blast”. 

Vorticism, according to Ezra Pound, was an extension the principles of Imagism to other arts including painting and sculpture. It combined techniques of Cubism and Futurism in an effective manner without imitating them. 

It is important to note that Vorticism promoted and supported non-representational art, primitive myth and rituals.  The horrors of the First World War left its imprint on the works of many great writers of that time and Thomas Stearns Eliot and Ezra Pound were no exception.


The First World War War affected the writers both psychologically and physically. These writers carved out their own wasteland across Europe afflicted with disillusion and degeneration. Ezra Pound’s poem “Provincia Deserta” presents the image of the wasteland which was to rule over the writers and their literature after the First World War. 

Thomas Stearns Eliot’s famous poem “The Waste Land” can be deemed as a fine examples of this. Ezra Pound’s famous work “The Cantos” can be called as the fine example of Vorticism. 

Ezra Pound’s work “The Cantos” introduces many mythical deities and figures such as Eros, Aphrodite, Helen, Demeter, Dionysus, and Pomona to give birth to the poet’s own version of mythicized copy of history which presents a contrast between the fertility and richness of the ancient world and the degeneration and decay of the present age. 

Ezra Pound’s “The Cantos” makes the recall Thomas Stearns Eliot’s famous work “The Waste Land” which holds mythical background. 

He found affinity with Ernest Fenollosa’s views on poetry that the observance of rituals is significant for the regeneration of society that that influenced Ezra Pound. Pound has shared the same view in his work “The Spirit of Romance” published in 1910 and “Vorticism” in 1914.


The Vorticists focussed their attention to the abstraction of essential emotion in the formal fabric or structure of painting, sculpture, music and poetry. 

It should be noted that Ezra Pound elaborated his theory of the ‘image’ in the magazine ‘Blast’. According to Ezra Pound, the ‘vortex’ was the strong force of the avant-garde which banishes the complacency of all the established traditions and culture. 

Ezra Pound found union of energy and emotion in the paintings of Wyndham Lewis, Picasso, Whistler, and Kandinsky. He also observed strange blending of emotion and dynamic energy in the wood blocks of Edward Wadsworth and sculpture of Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. 

According to Ezra Pound, all these art-forms are one and hold pure form. Here at this point Ezra Pound adhered to the doctrine propounded by Walter Pater that ‘All arts approach the conditions of music’. 

Ezra Pond applied his own idea of metamorphosis and fluidity to a vorticist's concept of structure. Ezra Pound defined the image as ‘a radiant mode or cluster from which and through which, and into which, ideas are constantly rushing’. 

It is important to note that Ezra Pound’s concept of a symbol is quite different from the other Symbolist poets. He has defined symbolism as ‘a belief in a sort of permanent metaphor’. This does not necessarily indicate ‘a belief in a permanent world’ but ‘a belief in that direction’. 

Ezra Pound criticized the Symbolists for employing a symbol with intended meaning. So, Ezra pound preferred use of organic images to ornamental images by maintaining complete objectivity. 

There is no doubt that Ezra Pound was highly influenced by Algernon Charles Swinburne, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Robert Browning, Ernest Dowson and the Aesthetic movement

Wyndham Lewis, a leader of the Vorticists, produced several novels and essays which unveiled the hollowness of modern values and beliefs. His novel “Tarr” appeared on the literary scene in 1918. The novel is set in art-driven Paris, where the frenzied bohemianism has assumed a political and sexual arrogance when confronted with bourgeois sentimentalism. 

Ezra Pound praised and appreciated “Tarr” as ‘the most vigorous and volcanic English novel’ and hailed Wyndham Lewis as ‘the rarest phenomena, an Englishman who has achieved the triumph of being also a European’. Wyndham Lewis’s novel “The Apes of God” has been written in satiric vein. It appeared in 1930. 

The novel "The Apes of God" presents the shortcomings and flaws of artist-dominated London in the 1920s. In the novel, Wyndham Lewis attacked the Bloomsbury group.

Wyndham Lewis has expressed his political views in “The Art of Being Ruled” in 1926. He stated that society has been metamorphosed and revolutionized by mechanical development. The change and revolution should be accepted by the artist. 

In “The Art of Being Ruled”, Lewis has dreamt of a society emancipated from the manacles of poverty and disparity. 

It was Ezra Pound who introduced Vorticism to Alvin Langdon Coburn who began to re-assess his photographic style under the spell of Vorticism. He produced bold and effective portraits of Ezra Pound by employing three images of different sizes overlapping each other. 

Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, a French sculptor, was one of the founder members of Vorticism. He was famous for his pen and pencil drawings which appeared in the periodical, “Rhythm”. 

Henri Gaudier-Brzeska also produced a Vorticist history of sculpture published in the first issue of the “Blast’. Henri Gaudier-Brzeska’s works celebrate the energy and richness of primitive art and it criticizes the ideals of the Renaissance and the Greeks. 

Edward Wadsworth was one of the renowned members of the Vorticist movement who produced fine abstract paintings and dazzle camouflage for the royal navy during the First World War. 

The Vorticist’s belief in the power and purity of machine age was shattered to pieces when the First World War broke out. It was challenged by the realities of the trenches. 

Thus most of the vorticist artists and writers later moved away from the avant-garde and embraced realistic style that resulted in the demise of Vorticism in 1915.

Watch a video: Vorticism



In the first quarter of the twentieth century, a new art movement known as Dadaism took birth in Switzerland. The term ‘Dadaism’ was coined by the German writer Hugo Ball who has been considered as one of the founder members of Dadaism. Many Dadaist artists and writers took refuge in Switzerland during the First World War in 1916

After the First World War, the Dadaist movement cast its spell on France, and Germany and America. It also had many centres in Paris, Berlin and New York. 

Dadaism was primarily an anti-aesthetic and nihilistic reaction of art and literature. It also expressed despair and disgust over the destructive force of war, especially the First World War. 

The Dadaists artists and writers derived pleasure in employing collage, photo-montage, and randomly chosen words in their works rather than in paintings and sculpture. It emphasized the principle of leaving a work of art to chance. 

Hugo Ball commented on the sorry state of society and expressed his anger and detestation for the established doctrines of philosophy that claimed to hold essential spirit of ‘absolute truth’. 

The Dada Movement was essentially anti-bourgeois, anti-nationalistic, anti-materialistic, and for that matter against everything that was deemed reasonable. Though it was called as anti-art movement, it was not so because it was not against art as such but against the established norms and standards about art.


The Dadaist artists searched for new alternative art practices through which they could give vent to their pent up feelings. They wanted to carve out their own world which would be completely different from the world around them. 

In Dadaism, it is not the object or idea which chooses an artist but the artist who chooses an object or idea and transforms it into a work of art. Many Dadaist artists and writers made use of ‘automatic writing’, it is kind of writing performed in a state of hypnosis or under the influence of drugs or liquor. 

André Breton and Philippe Soupault employed automatic writing in their work “Les Champs magnétiques”: Magnetic Fields published in 1920. 

A number of modernist writers recorded the promptings of their unconscious mind by employing the method of automatic writing. Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Thomas Stearns Eliot, William Butler Yeats experimented with automatic writing. 

According to André Breton, Dada was a state of mind. It truly wanted to say ‘no’ to established rules and conventions in art and literature. It aimed at changing the countenance of art which was thought to be reasonable and logical. 

The Dadaists chose a peculiar name for the movement on purpose since it was against meaningfulness. So the term “Dadaism” denotes ‘everything and nothing’. 

The chief members of Dadaism were Hugo Ball, his wife Emmy Hennings, Tristan Tzara, Hans Arp, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, and Max Ernst. Many of the Dadaist artists later on joined Surrealism in 1921. 

Hugo Ball produced the Dada Manifesto in 1916. In his works, he emphasized the need to create poetry not merely by using words but to compose poetry out of the words. It means that the Dadaist writers were to create a new kind of language. 

Dadaism was a revolt against bourgeois art, religion and society. Hugo Ball’s famous poem “Karawane” comprises nonsensical words which reflect nothing but meaninglessness; that is one of the principles of Dadaism. 

Another famous poem of Hugo Ball is “Collection 7 Schizophrene Sonnette”. Hugo Ball founded a central performance platform for the Dada artists called ‘Cabaret Voltaire’ in Zürich which became a centre for poetry reading, music, dance-performances and exhibitions.


It is important to note that his wife Emmy Hennings was also one of the active members of Dadaism. She was an artist, singer and poet. She wrote a collection of poems called “Ether Poems”; or “Äthergedichte” in 1913. She also recited her poems and performed at ‘Cabaret Voltaire’ in Zürich.

Marcel Duchamp, one of the finest artists of Dadaism, created “The Fountain” by employing a regular white porcelain urinal. He wanted to suggest that the artist has got the intellectual power to select an object which would become a work of art. 

Tristan Tzara, a Romanian-French  essayist, artist and poet, produced his plays “The Gas Heart” in 1921 and “Handkerchief of Clouds” in 1924. He was influenced by André Breton. He also composed a surrealist poem “The Approximate Man”. 

Man Ray, another important figure of Dadaism, was a photographer, and film-maker. He experimented with the technique called ‘solarization’ in which he rendered a photograph as part negative and part positive when it was exposed to a flash light. Man Ray wrote his autobiography namely, “Self Portrait” in 1963. 

According to Hans Arp, ‘Dada’ movement is for the senseless which does not mean nonsensical. Dada is senseless like nature. It is for nature and against art. He liked to play with the idea of spontaneity and chance. 


Hans Arp produced some strange collages by making use of paper cut-outs. He made these collages by dropping the cut-outs from the air and gluing them where they fell. Hannah Hoch made use of photo-montages in order to create an image of a modern woman.  

John Heartfield and Rudolph Schlichter created a life size doll of a soldier with a head of a pig. It was called as “The Prussian Archangel”. There was a growing response to Dadaist modern painting, sculptures, photography and film-making which helped to promote experimentation both in poetry and drama in the first quarter of the twentieth century. It influenced many modernist writers including Ezra Pound and Thomas Stearns Eliot. 

Many writers were highly inspired and influenced by these avant-garde artists. The paintings and sculptures of Hans Arp, Tristan Tzara, Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp influenced the writers in England and America. 

In 1920, the First International Dada Art Fair was held in Berlin. The exhibition hall was decorated with various art-forms, even the ceiling of the exhibition hall was not left blank. 

Cambridge School: 

The Cambridge School was a group of modern critics of the 1920s and 1930s. They were associated with Cambridge University. The Cambridge critics detested the idea of historical and biographical study while dealing with the work of art. They were influenced by the great romantic poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Thomas Stearns Eliot. They emphasized the close reading of text and paid little attention to the biographical and historical background of the writer under study. 

The Cambridge School had a mouthpiece in the literary journal called “Scrutiny” which began in 1932. The chief members of the Cambridge School were I.A. Richards, F.R. Leavis, William Empson, and Q.D. Leavis. The Leavises studied literary works on the basis of their moral value and significance and their uplifting effect on society.



After the demise of Dadaism, a new art movement  named 'Surrealism' took birth in 1921. Surrealism has been hailed as anti-rational imagination liberation in art and literature. The main goal of surrealist writers was to emancipate art and literature from all restraints including logical reason, standard morality, social and artistic conventions and norms.


The surrealist artists and writers tried to fathom out the depth of the unconscious mind which was deemed as the only source of valid knowledge and art. 

The Surrealists made use of the material of dreams, of states of mind between sleep and waking, sexual desire and they employed content of natural or drug-induced hallucinationsThey explored the blurred boundaries between rationality and irrationality. 

Surrealism was a revolt against the established conventions and norms in art and literature and many Surrealist artists were associated with one or the other political or social movement. The surrealists juxtaposed dissimilar images and objects which often surprised the viewers. 

The chief members of the Surrealist movement are André Breton, Philippe Soupault, Paul Éluard, Guillaume Apollinaire, Salvador Dali, Benjamin Péret, Louis Aragon, and Hermann Hesse

André Breton, the French poet, has been deemed as one of the founders of Surrealism which began in 1924. He was closely associated with Dadaism which was in vogue between 1919 and 1921. André Breton was greatly influenced by the writings of Guillaume Apollinaire and Sigmund Freud.

The first collection of poetry of André Breton namely, “Mont de piétie” appeared in 1919. He also worked with Philippe Soupault on the surrealist work “Les Champs magnétiques”: “Magnetic Fields" which was published 1920 before the official opening of Surrealism. The work was an experiment in automatic writing. 

André Breton composed a number of collections of poetry such as “Claire de terre”: Earth Light in 1920, and “Le Revolver à cheveux blancs”: The White-Haired Revolver” in 1932. Another collection of poetry called “”L’Air de l’eau”: The Air of the Water was published in 1934. 

André Breton also published some excellent prose narratives such as “Nadja” in 1928, “Les vases communicants”: The Communicating Vessels in 1932. The other remarkable prose narratives of André Breton are “L’Amour fau”: Mad Love published in 1937 and “Arcane 17” appeared in 1944. 

Many editions of surrealism in art were published between 1928 and 1965 known as “Le Surréalisme et la peinture”: Surrealism and Painting. 

Paul Éluard, the French poet, was one of the leading members of the Surrealist group of writers. He produced a number of volumes of poetry such as “Les Dessous d’une vie ou la pyramid humaine”: The Human Pyramid in 1926. Other famous volumes are “Capitale de la douleur”: Capital of Pain published in 1926 and “L’Amour, La poésie”: Love, Poetry in 1929.


The other famous collections of poetry of Paul Éluard are “La vie immediate”: The Immediate Life in 1932, “La Rose Publique: The Public Rose in 1934 and “Les Yeux fertiles”: The Fertile Eyes in 1936. 

Paul Éluard collaborated with André Breton and Max Ernst. With André Breton he wrote “L’Immaculée Conception: The Immaculate Conception in 1930 and worked with Max Ernst on “Les Malheurs des Immortels”: The Misfortunes of the Immortal in 1922. 

The term “Surrealism” was coined by Guillaume Apollinaire in 1917 though the movement began much later in 1924. Guillaume Apollinaire was a leading figure of the Surrealist group of writers. 

Guillaume Apollinaire's play “The Breast of Tiresias” was his earliest surrealist work appeared in 1917. The play was adapted by Francis Poulenc for his famous opera “Les Mamelles de Tiresias” was published in 1945 and performed in 1947. 

Hermann Hesse’ novel “Narcissus and Goldmund” appeared in 1930, it is surrealist work set in the Middle Ages. His novel “The Glass Bead Game” also holds the surrealist elements. “The Glass Bead Game” was published in 1943. 

It is important to note that Hermann Hesse employed Carl Jung’s concepts in his fiction. 

John Henry Gray’s surrealist novel “Park: A Fantastic Story” is set in the future; it was published in 1932. 

David Gascoyne produced “A Short Survey of Surrealism” in 1935 and he translated many works of the surrealist writers of France. He wrote “Man’s Life is his Meat” in 1936 and “Hölderlin’s Madness” in 1938. David Gascoyne was greatly inspired by Guillaume Apollinaire and Paul Éluard. 

Louis Aragon, the French poet, novelist and political activist was a staunch supporter of the Surrealist movement. At the beginning of his literary career he was greatly influenced by Dadaism but later on diverted to surrealism in 1924. He composed a number of collections of poetry such as “feu de joie” in 1921 and “Le Mouvement perpetual” in 1926. 

Louis Aragon, one of the leading members of the Surrealist movement, produced a number of novels. His wrote the “Monde réel” trilogy which comprises “Les Cloches de Bâle”: The Bells of Basel” in 1934. The other two novels of the trilogy are “Les Beux Quartiers”: Residential Quarter published in 1936 and “Les voyageurs de l’Impériale” in 1942. Louis Aragon’s novel “Le Paygan, de Paris” appeared earlier than his trilogy in 1926.

It is important to note that Louis Aragon founded a literary reviewLittérature” in collaboration with André Breton and Philippe Soupault in 1919. It became the mouthpiece of the Surrealist movement. 

Raymond Queneau, the French poet, essayist and novelist handled the surrealist elements artistically in his surrealist novel “Zazie dans le Métro”: Zazie in the Underground in 1959. He experimented with literary forms and studied the difference between spoken and written language. 

Thornton Wilder, the American novelist and playwright was under the influence of Surrealism. He produced the play “The Skin of our Teeth” in 1942. The play is tinged with the surrealist elements. He also composed novels such as “The Bridge of San Luis Rey” in 1927 and “The Ides of March” in 1948.

Though Surrealism left its imprints on the psyche of many modernist writers and artists, it failed to impress Wallace Stevens. 

According to Wallace Stevens, the essential fault of Surrealism is that it invents without discovering; believing that form has no significance except in relation to the reality that is being revealed.  

Many English writers such as Dylan Thomas, William Burroughs, Thomas Pynchon, and Henry Miller employed the surrealist ingredients such as non-logical order, a broken syntax, juxtaposition of shocking unrelated images and dreamlike and nightmarish sequences in their literary works.       

Pattern Poetry:

A term ‘pattern poetry’ refers to a kind of experimental poetry which appeared on the literary scene in the 16th century. The Pattern poetry is also known as 'figure poetry' and 'shaped verse'. The origin of pattern poetry can be traced in the works of the Greek poets. 

The style and idea of writing pattern poetry seems to be derived from the Planudean version of the "Greek Anthology"; it was the only known anthology of Greek epigrams and poems. The pattern poetry appeared on the literary scene in England in Puttenham’s “The Arte of English Poesie” in 1589.


In Pattern Poetry a meaning conveyed through an artistic use of shape and sense. The lines in a pattern poem are arranged in a peculiar style for representing a physical object. they also imply mood and feeling of a poet. 

In Pattern Poetry, the typography or lines are arranged in strange and unconventional way in order to imply the emotional content of the words employed in the pattern poetry. The pattern poets also employed geometric shapes  such as wings, egg, and spear.  

The Metaphysical poet, George Herbert made use of a pattern of words in his poem “Easter Wings”. George Herbert’s poem “Easter Wings” is a fine example of a pattern poem. There is variation in typography and irregular and unusual employment of spaced lines and capitalization in order to put stress on some specific terms and phrases in this poem. 

Some of the members of pattern poetry are Dylan ThomasEdward Estlin Cummings, and Stephane Mallarme

Dylan Thomas made use of the images from human body and the Old Testament for his crafty word play in his poetry. He was a gifted poet; his collection of twelve pattern poems called "Vision and Prayer" and “Deaths and Entrances” became popular in 1946.


e. e. Cummings employed irregularly spaced lines, nontraditional capitalization in order to put stress on a particular a word or phrase. The typography of his poems implies mood and energy of his poems. He used colloquial language for attaining musical effect. e. e. Cummings’ first volume of poetry “Tulips and Chimneys” appeared in 1923. 

e.e. Cummings has made use of colloquial words and ingredients from burlesque and the circus in poetry. His love lyrics and erotic poems appeal both to the heart and head of the readers. 

The experimental typography and technical skill of the poems enticed the readers of every age and gained popularity. Stephane Mallarme made use of different type sizes in his work, “Un Coup de dés”: “A Throw of Dice” in 1897. 

Guillaume Apollinaire’s “Calligrammes” can be deemed as the quintessence of pattern poetry in which the words are arranged in artistic fashion to form a pattern implying the main theme of the poems. His collection of poems “Calligrammes” appeared in 1916. It deals with the poet’s experiences as a soldier.

There is fine blending of images of war and love in ‘Calligrammes’ and it set a fine example of typographical skill. The poems in the collection appear both as poems and images. Owing to this unusual and strange usage of verbal associations, Apollinaire’s “Calligrammes” surprises and astonish the reader. 

Pattern poetry has been referred to as Concrete poetry since 1950s. There is slight difference between pattern poetry and concrete poetry. 

Pattern poetry contains its sense and meaning apart from its typography. It makes sense even if it is read aloud.

In concrete poetry the meaning lies in its appearance on the page and it does not rely on the use of words or their typography that forms them. Concrete poetry can be read aloud to any effect.


Concrete Poetry:

The concrete poetry is a modern experimental form of poetry which was in vogue in the 1950s and 1960s. Its roots can be seen in the ‘pattern poetry’. The concrete poetry deals with the presentation of a text in the shape that implies the central idea of the poem. 

In 1956, National Exhibition of concrete art was launched in São Paulo. It was stated in the manifesto of concrete poetry that it begins by being aware of graphic space as structural agent. The concrete poetry may find its place on the page, on glass, stone, wood or on any fabric and material. 

In modern age, concrete poetry has been practised and popularised by Max Bill and Eugen Gorminger. They presented concrete poetry in São Paulo at an exhibition of concrete art.


The concrete poetry breaks away from a verbal concept of traditional poetry and it includes geometric figures and graphic designs into the poetic process.  

The concrete poets made use of graphics, computer poems, numbers, punctuation marks, symbols, photographs, drawings, collage, and different type of fonts along with colours and sizes in order to get desired effect. 

By arranging a text on a page in some specific form, the concrete poetry creates an impression of some object which is associated with the sense and meaning of the poem. The letters and words of varied length are arranged in a special style which leaves an impression of some shape or object which represent the subject of the poem. 

The concrete poems cannot be read in the conventional way because they sometimes comprise a single phrase or letters in haphazard order. The letter or phrase when arranged in the proper order conveys the meaning. The fine example is e.e. cummings’ arrangement of letters: ‘r-p-o-p-h-e-s-s-a-g-r’ which implies the leaping insect ‘grasshopper’ but only after arranging the letters; it requires deep thinking and keen observation.


At first, the readers get vague idea; then come to know about the idea. The scrambled series of letters does not give clear idea at first but the letters form a word ‘grasshopper’. Ezra Pound has also produced some concrete poems. 

The concrete poetry has two minor forms: the kinetic and the phonetic form. The drawings and photos employed by a poet make sense on turning on the page. It is called as called kinetic form. Ian Hamilton Finley, Edwin Morgan, May Swenson, John Hollander, and Apollinaire practised this form of poetry. 

The two Scottish poets of concrete poetry namely, Ian Hamilton Finlay and Edwin Morgan popularized concrete poetry in the UK. 

Ian Hamilton Finlay’s collection of concrete poems “Rapel” appeared in 1963. The arrangements of words and typography of his poems clearly indicate his affinity with 17th century poet George Herbert. 


Most of Ian Hamilton Finlay's work appeared in his British periodical magazine of visual poetry “Poor. Old. Tired. Horse.” The name of the magazine has been taken from Robert White Creeley’s poem “Please”. 

Edwin Morgan, another Scottish poet, is one of the exponents of the concrete poetry. His poem “Computer’s First Christmas Card” clearly reflects his interest in computer generated poetry. 

The poem appeared in 1965. Edwin Morgan’s poem “The Loch Ness Monster’s Song” describes the problem of broken communication. It also deals with a shift from language to phonemes.

Both Ian Hamilton Finlay and Edwin Morgan occupy a significant place in the international concrete poetry movement. 

According to Mary Ellen Solt, the concrete poetry seeks to relieve the poem of its centuries-old burden of ideas, symbolic reference, allusion and repetitious emotional content.

Watch a video: Pattern Poetry and Concrete Poetry


Pylon Poets:

The term “Pylon Poets” has been applied to a group of the poets of 1930s; it has been taken from Stephen Spender’s poem “The Pylons” published in 1933. The pylon poets were influenced by Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. They tried to mingle Marx’s philosophy of revolution with Sigmund Freud’s psychology of the unconscious in their poetry.

The Pylon school of poets is actually a nickname of the MacSpaunday group of writers. The term 'MacSpaunday' refers to a group of Louis MacNeice, Stephen Spender, Wystan Hugh Auden, and Cecil Day-Lewis. The term 'Mac-Sp-aun-day' comprises the names of these poets. Cyril Connolly hailed them as 'Pylon Boys'. The term ‘MacSpounday’ was coined by Roy Campbell in his work “Talking Bronco”.


Some of the members of the pylon group were Wystan Hugh Auden, Louis MacNeice, Cecil Day-Lewis, and Stephen Spender. The Pylon poets were influenced by the metaphysical poets and they made use of modern and scientific images borrowed from technology and industry in their works. 

Wystan Hugh Auden emphasised the significance of objective attitude and he had great faith in social upheavals as a means of bringing reform in diseased social order. The images of pylons and skyscrapers appear in Cecil Day-Lewis’s poem, “Look west, Wystan, lone flyer” in his famous volume “The Magnetic Mountain”. 

Similarly, W.H. Auden’s poetry abounds with images of power stations, crowded roads, landscapes of arterial roads and the frequent image of a lone wanderer in an empty landscape. 

Stephen Spender showed awareness of the modern technological age and its machinery in his early poetry. Stephen Spender excelled in his short lyrics. His poems “The Express” and “The Landscape near an Aerodrome” clearly indicate his interest in modern terms borrowed from science, machinery and industry which he mingles with language.


Stephen Spender's poems vividly imply intrusion of technology and industry into the serene and tranquil territory of Nature. The two mighty forces:  Nature and technology go hand in hand in his poetry. Some of Stephen Spender’s poems reflect the poet’s inclination to Left-wing politics. His famous poem “An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum” concern with cultural disintegration, and class conflict in interwar Britain. 

Another renowned poet of pylon poetry was Louis MacNeice who was a much finer artist of this group. He handled words and language with great control, balance in an artistic manner. He produced a few collections of poetry like “The Earth Compels” in 1938, “Autumn Journal” in 1939, “Plant and Phantom” in 1941, “Springboard” in 1944, “Holes in the Sky” in 1948, “Autumn Sequel” in 1954, and “The Burning Perch” in 1963. 

Louis MacNeice has adroitly employed internal rhymes, assonance, half-rhymes and repetitions in his poetry. In the poem “Birmingham”, Louis MacNeice featured trains and trams. He has given a detailed record of his environment in great detail in the forms of a diary, letter or journal. 

It clearly implies that poetry itself is not special but is open to all readers. Louis MacNeice has expressed his concern about the modern world which is equipped with machines and over-dependent on material values.


In the poem “Birmingham”, Louis MacNeice featured trains and trams. He has given a record of his environment in great detail in the forms of a diary, letter or journal. It clearly implies that poetry itself is not special but is open to all readers. 

Louis MacNeice has expressed his concern about the modern world which is equipped with machines and over-dependent on material values. 

W.H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood showed images power stations and filling stations in “The Dog beneath the Skin”. The Pylon poets has often been called as 'thirties poets'. 

Though Cecil Day-Lewis was greatly inspired by Wystan Hugh Auden, he has demonstrated his originality and freedom of manner in his poetry. He had great fondness for imagery drawn from machinery and some aspects of modern life.


His collection of poems “Magnetic Mountain” appeared in 1933. Like other poets of his group he found solace in left-wing ideals as a remedy to social problems.

Black Arts Movement: 

The birth of the Black Arts Movement can be traced in the 1960s. it was a period of disorder and turbulence due to Vietnam War. There was protest against the war and the Black artists and writers demanded their rights. There were a few incidents of riots and burning in the major cities of the Unites States. 

The Black Arts Movement clearly reflects Black separatism, Black pride and promotion of Black culture and solidarity. It is important to note that the Black Arts Movement stood on the side of Black Power Movement in political sphere. The Black Arts Movement began in Harlem (predominantly black area of New York City) in the mid-1960s under the leadership of Amiri Baraka who founded the Black Arts Repertory Theater in 1965.

According to Larry Neal who supported the movement, Black Art is the aesthetic and spiritual sister of the Black Power Concept. He supported and promoted the movement. The primary aim of the Black Arts Movement was to promote African art forms and bring change in the established White culture. 

Some of the leading figures of this movement were Amiri Baraka {Le Roi Jones}, Sonia Sanchez, and Nikki Giovanni. 

The Black artists expressed their revolt against the domination of the White culture and modernist forms which was advocated by the writers of the 1950s. The Black Arts Movement emphasized the Black vernacular, and rhythm and moods of the blues and jazz. It was concerned with the lower strata of Black community. 

Many writers of the Beat Movement like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac were associated with the Black Arts Movement which had great influence on the ‘counter-culture’ of the 1960s. The Black Arts Movement gave birth to the Black Aesthetics which addressed to Black audience. In brief, the Black Arts Movement was a revolt against the established literary and cultural norms. It reflects power struggle and self-expression and self-realization.

OuLiPo Movement: 

The OuLiPo Movement took birth in France; it was founded by the French experimental writers such as Raymond Queneau, French poet and novelist, and François Le Lionnais, a mathematician. The term “OuLiPo”; or “OULIPO” is acronym for the “Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle” {Workshop for Potential Literature}. 

Some of the leading figures of the OuLiPo Movement were Georges Perec, Harry Matthews, Jacques Rouband, and Italo Calvino. 

The primary objective of the OuLiPo Movement was to find out the literary possibilities of the formal and artificial rigidity and mathematical combinations which are already present in literature. The OuLiPo writers tried to mingle mathematical structures in literary works. They also devised language games in order to produce works. 

Some of their works have been written in peculiar style by excluding on or more letters of the alphabet. The OuLiPo writers composed their literary works with vowels arranged in order. They artistically employed Lipograms: a piece of writing in which a particular letter of the alphabet is not used on purpose in order to get desired effect. 

Raymond Queneau was one of the founder members of the OuLiPo Movement, he made experiments in literary forms and tried to find out the variation or difference between spoken and written language. He produced a famous sonnet sequence called “Cent mille milliards de poems” in 1961 in which lines of the sonnets could be rearranged in a number of possible ways. His best known work is “Zazie dans le metro”: Zazie in the underground. It was published in 1959. 

Georges Perec earned name and fame with the publication of his detective novel called “La Disparition”; it was published in 1969. Georges Perec avoided use of the letter ‘e’ in the novel. 

Georges Perec’s “La Disparition” was translated into English by Gilbert Adair as “A Void” in 1994. The novel comprises 300 pages in which the writer has avoided use of the letters ‘es’. Another famous novel called “Vie mode d’emploi” of Georges Perec appeared on the scene in 1978 as “Life: A User’s Manual”. The novel depicts the life in a Parisian apartment block. 

Harry Matthew, American novelist, was associated with the OuLiPo Movement. His novels “The Conversions” published in 1962 and “Tlooth” in 1966 are replete with word play and eccentric narratives. His novel “Cigarettes” appeared in 1987 in which the narratives are based on algorithms. 

Another novel of Harry Matthews called “The Journalist” appeared in 1994. Harry Matthews has also composed experimental texts such as “Their Words for You” in 1977 which contains proverbs. “A Mid-Season Sky” is a volume of Harry Matthews poetry published in 1992. 

Italo Calvino, Italian journalist and writer was a member of OuLiPo Movement. He produced experimental work such as “Se una note d’inverno un viaggiatore”: If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller”; it was published in 1979. 

In OuLiPo literatrure, there are some poems which comprise vowels which appear in their order: ‘a’e’i’o’u’ and narratives based on algorithms.

Liverpool Poets: 

The emergence of Liverpool Poets can be traced in the 1960s with the birth of the Beatles and the Anglo-American Jazz poetry. the group of Liverpool poets comprised three poets, they are Adrian Henri, Brian Patten, and Roger McGough

The works of the Liverpool poets were published in the two anthologies called "The Mersey Sound" (1967), and "New Volume" (1983). The Liverpool poets gave public performances with the accompaniment of music. Their works are tinged with good-humored vocal poetry, and pop music. 

Adrian Henri, a poet and painter, produced his collections of poetry, "Tonight at Noon" in 1968, "City" in 1969, "From the Loveless Motel" in 1980, and "Penny Arcade" in 1983. he also led a rock group called 'Liverpool Scene" between 1967 and 1970. 

Brian Patten, one of the Liverpool poets, published his collection of poems, "Little Johnny's Confession" in 1967 "Vanishing Trick" in 1976, and "Armada" in 1996. 

Roger McGough put much emphasis on performance poetry. He published collections of poetry, "Watchwords" in 1969 and "In the Glass-room" in 1976. he also published children fiction such as "The Great Smile Robbery" in 1982.               


Language Poets:

The Language Poetry was an avant-garde movement of American poets which was in vogue in the 1960s and 1970s in America. The works of the Language poets began appear in the New York journal named, “L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E” between 1978 and 1982

The “L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E” journal was jointly edited by the two leading figures, Bruce Andrews and Charles Bernstein. It should be noted that the Language poets were influenced by the writings of the renowned American writer, Gertrude Stein and William Carlos Williams.

The Anthology of Language Poetry comprised the content already available in the “L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E” journal. It was first published as "L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E” Book in 1984. 

It is important to note that Charles Bernstein’s book, “A Poetics” contains the information about the principles and objectives of the Language Poetry. It represents the ideals and practices of the Language poetry. 

A number of language poems were published in the three journals named, “Hills”, “This”, and “Roofs”. The poetry of David Bromige, Ted Greenwald, Carla Harriman and Michael Palmer appeared in these three journals.

Group of Language Poets

The chief members of the group of Language poets are: Bruce Andrews, Charles Bernstein, Lyn Hejinian, Susan Howe, Ron Silliman, Michael Palmer, Clark Coolidge, Bob Perelman, Barrett Watten, Robert Grenier, and James Sherry

Characteristics of Language Poetry

The language poets tried to explore the numerous ways that meaning and function of words in the text can be produced, understood, and revealed in writing. 

They studied the significance and values of reference in any kind of writing. They believed that the role and significance of reference should be recognized in the production of meaning in the language. 

The language poets believed that the values and scope of reference enables the writer the weave a web of various kinds of writing such as poems, novels, essays, etc. 

Reference can be denotative, associative, or connotative. But they disliked the notion of self-referential function of language because the reader also plays important role in the production of meaning of a work of art.

The Language poets reacted against the general belief that the primary function of words is to refer to an already perceivable and constructed world of things. They also detested the general assumption that writing should be freed from the burden of reference. 

According to the project of Language poetry, reference is one of the horizons of language just like a body. So its value and significance should be observed in the writing. 

The principles and objectives of Language poetry have been vividly discussed by Bruce Andrews and Charles Bernstein. According to the project of Language poetry, it does not involve completely transforming and turning language into a commodity for consumption. 

The Language poetry aims at repossessing the sign through close observation and attention to and active participation in its production. It also puts stress on the role and significance of the reader in making out a meaning of writing.

Ron Silliman’s famous essay, “Disappearance of the Word/Appearance of the World” deals with referential issue of language. In the essay, Ron Silliman has applied idea of obsession and worship of commodity to narrative and descriptive forms of writing. 

In the essay, “Disappearance of the Word/Appearance of the World” Ron Silliman has stated that words disappear and become transparent giving place to a physical object or world which can be consumed and utilised by the readers as if it were a commodity. 

It is important note that the idea of language surfaces and structures has partly been borrowed from Formalist principles. 

Brian Merriman's famous language poem "The Midnight Court" is tinged with sarcasm. It was published in 1993; it proposes the abolition of clerical celibacy. 

Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, an Irish language poet, produced several collections of poetry such as "An Dealg Droighin" in 1981, "Feis" in 1991, and "Cead Aighnis" in 1999. There is fine blending of figurative language in her works.       

Watch a video: Language poets


Martian Poets:

The term “Martian poets” has been employed for a group of poets in the 1980s in Britain. The term was coined by a poet, essayist and journalist, James Fenton. The term “Martian poets” has been derived from Craig Raine’s collection of poems “A Martian Sends a Postcard Home” published in 1979. Craig Raine’s first book of verses “The Onion, Memory” was composed in 1978. The Martian poets were not an organised group of poets. 

The Martian poets expressed their thoughts in a novel fashion by using figurative language and employing similes, metaphors, and conceits bringing unexpected perspectives to everyday things. Craig Raine has been deemed as leader of the ‘Martian School’. The Martian poets presented the familiar and everyday things in an unfamiliar ways by ‘tearing away veil of familiarity’. 

Craig Raine has artistically employed metaphors and similes in his poems for making the everyday things and objects unfamiliar, and changing readers’ habitual ways of seeing the world. For example, ‘books are ‘Caxtons’, ‘the toilet is a ‘punishment room’ where everyone’s pain has a different smell’, ‘the moon fading in the morning like fat in a frying pan’,  and ‘a pug like a car crash’. 


Craig Raine’s “A Martian Sends a Postcard Home” transformed everyday objects in a playful style of defamiliarization. In “A Martian Sends a Postcard Home”, Raine has shown familiar earthly scenes through the immature eyes of a visiting Martian. For example, “Rain is when the earth is television.” 

Like Craig Raine, Christopher Reid has also shown his individuality and originality in his collection of poems, “Arcadia” which was published in 1979, and “Pea Soup” in 1982. 

The other members of this school of the Martian poets were David Sweetman and Oliver Reynolds. David Sweetman produced “Looking into the Deep End” in 1981. Oliver Reynolds’ “Skevington’s Daughter” displays playful kind of defamiliarization.

Watch a video: Pylon Poets and Martian Poets     


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