The World As A Wasteland: A Comparison Of Two American Modern Poets, Robert Frost And Langston Hughes

2322 words - 9 pages

“[F]uture commentators on American poetry and political issues will not be able to ignore the … authentic voice of the region,” argues Barry Ahearn, author of the article Poetry: 1900 to the 1940s, which discusses the importance of the author writing about his or her region of choice in their poetry and how it affects their writing (Ahearn 373). Ahearn discusses writers such as Sterling A. Brown, Langston Hughes, H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), Robert Frost, Robinson Jeffers, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Lorine Niedecker, George Oppen, John Crowe Ransom, Charles Rezikoff, Muriel Rukeyser, Gertrude Stine, Wallace Stevens, Sara Teasdale, William Carlos Williams, and Louis Zukofksy. The purpose of mentioning so many, claims Ahearn, is to gather a survey of works between 1900 and the 1940s. The discussion of these writers creates a wide range of Modernist authors that influenced each other and the people who read their works; the author claims that the authenticity of the writer is what creates a more accurate work of literature and the life experiences of these authors is the material that adds to their writing as a whole. For example, Robert Frost and Langston Hughes are regional writers that focus on specific places but have similar qualities in their poems that transcend the locale. Two poems exemplify these qualities -- “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” with “Birches” by Robert Frost and “Theme for English B” with “Visitors to the Black Belt” by Langston Hughes. Both authors express their world as a wasteland; their environments are portrayed in poor or discouraging light due to human intrusion, or lack thereof, within their communities.
Modernist Poetry involves a movement away from the self and the emotions of the individual. Typically, the focus of Modernist poetry revolves around the rational notions of the self, unlike the Romantic period, which focused on the poet. Modernist poets experimented with poetic form in order to examine the fragmentation of subjectivity or self-hood rather than use nature as a way to explain the powerful emotions, such as a Romantic poet may express in their poetry. However, poetry as a whole is the art of meticulous observation and ability to express every observation into words that, potentially, move the reader into action. Robert frost uses his powers of observation and literary skills as a Modern poet to express the attractive properties of the woods against the realities of responsibility.
In “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” Frost uses a voice that recognizes how humanity has somehow forgotten nature, it is a mourning for the natural world. The speaker displays some disdain for the responsibilities at home in favor of relishing in the beauty of pristine nature. For example, the speaker laments how, “The woods are lovely, dark and deep, / But I have promises to keep,” which show how the speaker desires to stay and look over the beautiful scenes of nature but cannot because of responsibilities at...

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