Charles Harper Modern poetry 306 Fragments by Yeats

Charles Harper

Modern poetry 306

Fragments by Yeats



LOCKE sank into a swoon;

The Garden died;

God took the spinning-jenny

Out of his side.


Where got I that truth?

Out of a medium’s mouth.

Out of nothing it came,

Out of the forest loam,

Out of dark night where lay

The crowns of Nineveh.

A true modernist delight, at first glance I have no idea what the agenda of this poem is.  After reading it a couple of times, I found it be cool because a poem this small required some research to see the platform in which it was created but still no complete guidance as to what the poem means. One of John LOCKE ‘S principles in a famous essay he wrote concerning Human Understanding (1690) he argued that all knowledge is derived from sense-experience. These small details are what gives modernist poetry a special place in history. The poem question where the so-called truth is coming from. The very things we base our live on is at question from Locke’s philosophy to God’s choice to make industry. Fascinating indeed what fragments we choose to make solid ideas out of.


Charles HarperModern poetry 306YeatsWhen You Are Old At first

Charles Harper

Modern poetry 306


When You Are Old




At first glance I felt the poem more than I understood it. It accomplishes the modernist agenda to evoke emotion because you take notice of the sad mood first from the opening line; When you are old and grey and full of sleep, (1) It’s definitely is cool to hear it read out load. When read properly through the enjambment the poem takes a new life. Yeats tells a story in the poem about a woman who is reminiscing on a failed love by looking at her scrapbook;


And nodding by the fire, take down this book,

And slowly read, and dream of the soft look

Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;(2-4)



I enjoyed it because it was so much packed into a small poem.  Depending on your make up it forces you into an uncomfortable place. Thinking about death is undermining to most of us so the poem is open to that interpretation. However it is just as adequate to say that it a poem showing youth to take opportunity while it is in front of you. I find it almost romantic in notion that another would care so much as to write for the sake of love that he himself would never experience.  This poem, like Eliot’s Prufrock, makes me wonder what about loss or missed love is special to the Modernist. What does it symbolize to them and why does it find its way into the subject matter of their poetry.




Charles HarperModern Poetry 306Dr. GharabegianT.S EliotThe love Song

Charles Harper

Modern Poetry 306

Dr. Gharabegian

T.S Eliot

The love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock 

The love song of J.Alfred Prufrock is one of those poems that if you read it more than once it offers a great delight. Like a lot of modernist poetry, it offers a lot of surface beauty but when looked at deeper it presents a grater message and /or messages.

The parts that stuck out to me were the question we dare not ask, presented in the first stanza. The significance to the reader is that it prepares you to pose questions to yourself as you read as well as it implies the question or questions of life and its meaning. Its vagueness and fill in the blank style of posing the question aligns itself perfectly with the modernist approach to thought. My life question dose not necessarily answers your needs. “Let us go and make our visit “ (12) suggest mystery commonality we as humans can share in this journey of answering the question of life. The constant shift in scenery leads to the reader to feel displaced in poem. I find that for me the images that come as you read are representative of the different lives we all lead. Suspending those coffee spoon moments shows Eliot’s wondering in mystery. “So how should I presume? “(54) If life is becoming predictable and it is determined already. The questions present in the poem spoke to me the most because out side of the context they are put in the questions take objective flight .Its almost as you experience the poem it becomes obvious these are the questions we ask ourselves and Eliot just gives words to put them in perspective for you to form other questions about the meaning of life.


Charles HarperModern Poetry 306Frank O’HaraHaving a Coke with

Charles Harper

Modern Poetry 306

Frank O’Hara

Having a Coke with You


Frank O’Hara was a neat modern poet .He was indulgent in the arts and was also a participant as a critic. He was special in the fact that he participated in the other arts as much as he did poetry. He once said that he would much rather be a painter but he knew he was not. He had cleaver ways of putting his criticism of art in mediums weather poetry or paintings. To me he was unique and valued to the craft because he was just as much a fan as a contributor.

“After all,” he wrote, “only Whitman and Crane and Williams, of the American poets, are better than the movies.” O’Hara enjoyed the arts freely and unpretentiously, taking in a ballet as frequently and casually as one might see a movie. In “Having a Coke with You” he writes:

               I look

at you and I would rather look at you than all

    the portraits in the world

except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally

   and anyway it’s in the Frick

which thank heavens you haven’t gone to yet so

   we can go together for the first time

and the fact that you move so beautifully more

   or less takes care of Futurism

just as at home I never think of the Nude

   Descending a Staircase


He to me is one of the honest poets I’ve ever read or at least he portrays himself to be. His language is disarming and conversational, yet there is a definite genius at work please look up some of his work a see what you think.


Charles HarperModern Poetry 306Dr. GharabegianT.S. EliotThe Waste Land Elliot’s

Charles Harper

Modern Poetry 306

Dr. Gharabegian

T.S. Eliot

The Waste Land


Elliot’s Wasteland is full of lines that take you from place to place mentally.

Lines like Winter kept us warm cause you to go between norms and oddities. When a word cues your senses into a normal place he uses another word to displace you. The poem overall shifts between time and space going from talking of having a cup of coffee to being in the mountains .The question I was left with was how or why the reader is asked to be in that place. Modernist poets often do this, I believe, to detach one from what they feel is a programmed response to the written word. This is to achieve the goal of not guiding the reader in what the response should be but allowing a gray area of neutrality just to feel what the language allows you to. The most compelling part of their work is its sub commentary on Elliot’s feeling about the state of man and art.

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow

Out of this story rubbish? Son of man,

You cannot say, or guess, for you know only

A heap of broken images, where the sun beats

His foretelling of the decline of art and what may be his opinion on the state of humanity is fascinating. Wasteland is demanding of the reader but has some fascinating implications and defines Eliot as superior and in some ways , prophetic as a poet.

Charles Harper
Modern Poetry 306
Dr. Gharabegian
Pounds Imagism questions

1) Pound and Eliot saw eye to eye in the fact they both thought that poetry should
Have a great stake in the process of creativity in the sublime. The words and form a poet
should use should allow for the reader to experience the poem emotionally through their
own distinct experience of it. A poem should not guide response or interpretation but should be formed where the reader find it. “Image” is that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time.
2) Pound snobbism refers to the thinking of the Victorian mode of writing. The snobbish way that literary institutions of the time thought that poetry should be judged. There was no room for growth of expression in this view.
3) Pound believed that critic’s opinions should not be valued heavily when constructing a work “Pay no attention to the criticism of men who have never themselves written a notable work. Consider the discrepancies between the actual writing of the Greek poets and dramatists, and the theories of the Graeco-Roman grammarians, concocted to explain their metres.” This means don’t listen to people who write about writers, listen to other great writers.
4) Pound says the line is good because there is nothing descriptive about the line that the reader can interpret.
5) Pound believes that reading poetry in other languages makes you smatter. You create a certain musicality from not knowing the language at all. It can teach you to make a rhythm that you would not necessarily have if you were familiar.
6) Pound insists that being viewy is providing description with words. This is a negative according to Pond because it shows laziness on the poet’s part to objective word that is open for interpretation.
7) Pound suggest that your rhythmic structure should not destroy the shape of your words, or their natural sound, or their meaning. Sound is best interruptive by the ear of the hearer. Rhythm and or rhyme should be applied not in a predictable manner but should have some element of unpredictability. A poet should structure the poem where there is no rhyme or rhythm without purpose. It should exist in the work to enhance it in some way. The future artist is one that creates for freedom of interpretation as well as expression .The poet will find their strength in concentration of the poetic process. One should hope to evoke emotion through small detail and the everyday experience. He or she should find beauty in small moments and put it into an intresting form.


Along These Lines…PATH Trains Bringing Poetry to Commuters

Charles Reznikoff (1894- 1976)

If there is a scheme,
perhaps this too is in the scheme,
as when a subway car turns on a switch,
the wheels screeching against the rails,
and the lights go out—
but are on again in a moment.


Charles Reznikoff (1894- 1976)


What are you doing in our street among the automobiles, horse?

What are you doing in our street among the automobiles, horse?
How are your cousins, the centaur and the unicorn?


From “Four Songs of the City” by Charles Reznikoff