T.S. EliotJen Crilly

T.S. Eliot (T.S. Eliot. Photograph)

Famous Modernist Free Verse poet, T.S. Eliot, was born on September 26, 1888 in St. Louis Missouri. Eliot was not only a poet, but an actor on stage and a critic too. His poetic style and intricacy widely influenced English poetry during the twentieth century. A few famous works by T.S. Eliot are, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” written in 1915, and The Wasteland created in 1922. Another profound work of his is the Four Quarters of 1945 (Shuman). This later poetry “is marked by the essential modernist notes of anxiety, the quest for individual of words to express and/or conceal meaning, and the place of earthy and spiritual love in human life,” (qtd. in Shuman). After a long and dedicated life to Modernist poetry, T.S. Eliot passed away on January 4, 1965.

Born, Thomas Stearns Eliot, he was the son of Henry Ware Eliot and Charlotte Champe Stearns Eliot. His father was a businessman, and his mother was both a poet and a biographer. Also, Reverend William Greenleaf Eliot, T.S. Eliot’s grandfather, founded the Unitarian Church of the Messiah as well as Eliot Seminary. Eliot Seminary was later transformed into Washington University. T.S. Eliot was brought up in a family that was well-known in the commercial, civic, religious, and academic life of St. Louis (Shuman).

Among the many influences of Eliot’s poems, his childhood at Smith Academy, and his summer visits to the beach at Rockport and the fishing port of Gloucester, Massachusetts were included (Shuman). His poetry included many references to the sea. For example, “The Dry Salvages,” part three of the Four Quarters, is named after a group of islands off the Gloucester coast called Les Trois Sauvages (Shuman). T.S. Eliot grew up in an environment filled with access to important creative literature such as the Bible. All of these things, as well as his mother and her love for the written word, nourished Eliot’s knowledge and use of poetry.

At the age of seventeen, Thomas Stearns Eliot began college as a philosophy student at Harvard University (Shuman). While there, he continued to learn about ancient languages and literatures. Other influences to his poetic ideas were the humanist, Irving Babbitt, and the philosopher, George Santayana (Shuman). Arthur Symons’s The Symbolist Movement in Literature, Jules Symons’s, and other French writers helped to set the stage for his own poetic experiments as well (Shuman).

Once receiving his bachelor’s degree from Harvard in 1909, T.S. Eliot started to work in Harvard’s doctoral degree program (Shuman). In 1914, he finished his studies, and completed his doctoral thesis on British thinker, F.H. Bradley, two years later (Shuman). During 1914, he was studying at Marburg, Germany. However, he then had to move to London and later Merton College, Oxford University due to the start of World War I (Shuman).

On September 22, 1914, Eliot attended a meeting which changed the course of poetry during the twentieth century (Shuman). While there, he presented himself to the American Poet, Ezra Pound. From that point on, T.S. Eliot conferred with his fellow poet on his writing and poetry. He even dedicated The Waste Land to Pound (Shuman). Ezra Pound introduced the idea that the conventions of the Victorian era of poetry were outdated and should be rejected, to Eliot (Shuman). As a result, T.S. Eliot created “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” which represented something new in poetry (Shuman). Another important event that took place in Eliot’s life was his unhappy marriage to Vivien Haigh-Wood which began on June 26, 1915 (Shuman). The marriage served as a form of information with the alienation and emptiness expressed in his poetry (Shuman).

Between the years of 1915 to 1917, Eliot taught at schools, and served as an extension lecturer at Oxford (Shuman). In March of 1917, he began working at Lloyd’s Bank as a clerk (Shuman). T.S. Eliot continued to work there until 1925, when he was hired at the publishing firm of Faber and Gwynn (Shuman).

A major turning point took place in T.S. Eliot’s life when The Waste Land was published in 1922 (Shuman). During the years that followed, he produced several other poems to maintain his rising popularity as a new facet in poetry. The Waste Land “made Eliot the toast of the post-World War I literary world and reshaped the course of twentieth-century poetry,” (qtd. in Shuman). The long poem guaranteed T.S. Eliot a lasting place in English literature history.

Eliot kept writing poetry into the 1930s, and began to explore verse drama too. After converting to the Church of England and becoming a British citizen, his switch led to his religious poem Ash Wednesday (1930) as well as the play, Murder in the Cathedral, written in 1935 (Shuman). Also, the Four Quartets was composed from 1935 to 1943 (Shuman). In the years during the 1930s and those that followed, T.S. Eliot expanded his interest in drama under the influence of William Butler Yeats. Within 1934 and 1949, the plays The Rock and The Cocktail Party as well as others “established a verse drama with religious and spiritual overtones and themes that reflected his own concerns,” (qtd. in Shuman).

Thomas Stearns Eliot was awarded both the Order of Merit by King George VI and also received the Nobel Prize in Literature during 1948 (Shuman). Up until his death in England in 1965, T.S. Eliot was given countless more similar awards, prizes, metals, and honorary degrees. With his passing, he left behind “a vast and valuable poetic legacy” that will be remembered for years to come (qtd. in Shuman).

Gwendolyn BrooksGiordanna Rossini
Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks was born on June 7, 1917 in Topeka, Kansas. However, she grew up in a community called “Bronzeville” located in Chicago (McKay). Brooks was an American poet in the late twentieth century. All her life she had a love for poetry and writing. Her parents always encouraged her as a child to pursue her interest. Brooks’ father, David Anderson Brooks, and her mother, Keziah Wims, had provided her with a writing desk where she could sit down to create her poems as a child. Gwendolyn’s parents supported and influenced her a great deal. Her father would often sing children songs to her as a child, creating a connection between the words and the music (Shuman). In addition, at the age of seven, Gwendolyn’s mother encouraged her to continue the rhymes she would often create on her own (“We Real Cool”). Additionally, Langston Hughes was an influence on Gwendolyn Brooks. Hughes read a few of Brooks’ poems and encouraged her to pursue her writing career as well (Shuman).

Gwendolyn Brooks (Unger)

On the path of becoming a famous American poet, Gwendolyn attended college and multiple classes to gain knowledge of American Literature. Gwendolyn Brooks graduated from High School in 1934. In 1936, Brooks graduated from Wilson Junior College. Also, in 1941, Brooks attended writing classes taught by Inez Cunningham Stark. Then in 1964, Gwendolyn received an honorary doctorate degree from Columbia College (Shuman).

Gwendolyn Brooks was known for her unique, mastery of technique, and form in her presentation of daily life. Revealing black identity, the problems of social injustice and hypocrisy were a few examples of her views on daily life. Her poetry included views of the African American community and family. Brooks’ first collection of poetry wasn’t published until the end of World War II. The first poem she published was for American Childhood Magazine. Gwendolyn was only thirteen years old at the time. However, her later works incorporate racial injustice and African American heroes. Gwendolyn Brooks is known for using lively humor, subtle satire, and sobering good sense in her poems also (Shuman).

In addition to Gwendolyn’s writing career, she juggled other jobs as well. For instance, in 1963, Brooks began her first teaching job at Chicago’s Columbia College. However, that wasn’t her only teaching job. She taught at the University of New York, Columbia University in New York, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Shuman). In addition to working as a teacher, she also experienced working as a maid and a secretary (“We Real Cool”).

Along Gwendolyn’s journey of writing numerous Modernist poems, she was rewarded multiple honorable awards. First, in 1943, Brooks won the poetry award from Midwestern Writers’ Conference in Chicago. Also, in 1946, she was awarded Guggenheim Fellowship and became a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1947, she was granted a second Guggenheim Fellowship. Gwendolyn became the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize for one of her famous poems, Annie Allen in 1950 as well. Additionally, Brooks was granted an invitation from President John F. Kennedy to read her poetry at the Library of Congress poetry Festival in 1962. Then in 1968, Gwendolyn Brooks was named Poet Laureate of Illinois (Shuman). Also, “in 1985, she became the first African-American woman to be named poetry consultant to the Library of Congress.” (quoted in “Gwendolyn Brooks”). Lastly, in 1988, Brooks was named to the National Women’s Hall of Fame. “Then in the following year, she won the Frost Medal of the poetry Society of America and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the National Endowment for the Arts (quoted in “Gwendolyn Brooks”).
Library of Congress (“Gwendolyn Brooks”)

With all of Gwendolyn’s hard work with writing poetry, she still managed to find time to get married and have children. When she was only twenty-one years old she joined the NAACP- National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Youth Council. There she met Henry Lowington Blakely II, who was a writer as well. The couple married in 1939. In 1940, they had their first child named Henry Lowington Blakely III ("We Real Cool"). Then in 1951, they had a daughter named Nora. The couple went through a few major hardships though. In 1969, Gwendolyn separated from Henry, however, they reunited in 1974 (Shuman).

In 1971, Gwendolyn Brooks suffered from a mild heart attack on Christmas Day. This was the end of her teaching career. Then, Gwendolyn died of cancer in her Chicago home on December 3, 2001 (‘Gwendolyn Brooks”). However in the future, Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks will continue to be known for her countless achievements, her myriad awards, and her unique style of poetry.

Marianne MooreJulia McNamee
Marianne Moore was born on November 15, 1887 in Kirkwood, Missouri. She was born in her grandfather’s home, who was a Presbyterian pastor. Moore never knew her father because he was admitted into a mental institution after having a mental break down (“Marianne Moore.” ABC-CLIO). Her grandfather passed away in 1894. When she was seven years old, Moore moved to Carlisle, Pennsylvania with her mother and brother. (“Marianne Moore.” ABC-CLIO). This move was after she had previously lived with other relatives for a short amount of time. No one predicted it at the time, but she would soon become an amazing Modernist poet with a unique style and many memorable works.
Marianne Moore (Cunningham)

Marianne lived in Carlisle for about twenty years. She then went to Bryn Mawr College as a biology major in 1905 (“Marianne Moore.” ABC-CLIO). She started to have her eye on poetry and literature, so she wrote for their campus literary magazine. Moore graduated in 1909 (“Marianne Moore.” ABC-CLIO). She then began to teach at the Carlisle Indian School from 1911 to 1915 (“Marianne Moore.” ABC-CLIO). In 1915, some of Moore’s poetry was published in The Egoist, and additional poems were published in Poetry, another literary magazine, about one year later (“Marianne Moore.” ABC-CLIO).

In 1918, Moore and her mother moved to New York. There, she joined a group of writers. Two young, brilliant poets named William Carlos and Wallace Stevens were also members of this group (“Marianne Moore.” ABC-CLIO). They told Moore that she should find her own writing style. She felt very strongly about imagery, and her poem “Poetry” portrays it well. “She writes in the syllabic verse that came to be identified with her work: natural rhythms of speech, yet strictly counted, line by line, and subtly patterned with rhymes,” (qtd. in “Marianne Moore.” ABC-CLIO). It seemed as though she had found her own style.

Marianne Moore’s first book, Poems, was published by her friends in 1921 in England (“Marianne Moore.” ABC-CLIO). They did this without her knowing, so she had no idea about it. At the time, she was working as an assistant at the New York Public Library (“Marianne Moore.” ABC-CLIO). For her second book, she chose fifty three poems to be included in it. It was titled, Observations, and it won her the Dial Award in 1924 (“Marianne Moore.” ABC-CLIO). Some more well known poems in Observations were, “Marriage” and “An Octopus” (“Marianne Moore.” ABC-CLIO). Moore was very fond of animals and was often inspired to write about them. She was also inspired by the arts, public affairs, baseball, and natural history.
Marianne Moore loved baseball (Marianne Moore)

During 1925, Moore was hired as an acting editor at The Dial, “A renowned modernist journal that sought to relate high culture to American life” (“Marianne Moore.” ABC-CLIO). The time that she spent there, led to a nationwide admiration for her by others. Moore’s poems were beginning to become renown at around that point in her life. She moved to Brooklyn after The Dial’s publication came to a close. Throughout the decade, Marianne was making a high income, which was evidently enough to support both her and her mother. The reason behind her high income was due to her book reviews and poetry.

Another great modernist poet was T.S. Eliot. He and Marianne Moore were friends. In fact, Eliot even wrote an introduction in one of her books, Selected Poems, in 1935 (“Marianne Moore.” ABC-CLIO). He wrote, “Miss Moore’s poems form part of the small body of durable poems written in our time,” (qtd. By T.S. Eliot). Moore was brilliant at choosing exactly the right words. For example, “…her use of language was always extraordinarily condensed and precise, capable of suggesting a variety of ideas and associations within a single, compact image” (Marianne). She connected ideas about World War II with animals, and used symbolism and imagery many times in her writing. One can tell that she loved to write about animals in, The Pangolin and Other Verse, written in 1936 (“Marianne Moore.” ABC-CLIO).
Moore with another American Modernist poet, Langston Hughes in 1952 (Marianne Moore with Langston Hughes)

In 1947, Marianne Moore’s mother passed away. This affected her work immesely. Moore made a dedication to her mom in Collected Poems (“Marianne Moore.” ABC-CLIO). An elegy in that same book won her the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the Bollingen Prize (“Marianne Moore.” ABC-CLIO). Marianne was extensively acknowledged for all her vast work.

Moore’s final poems were published in 1967 in The Complete Poems (“Marianne Moore.” ABC-CLIO). This book earned her even more recognition for her literary works. She was awarded the National Medal for Literature, as well as the Poetry Society of America’s Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement, which was her second (“Marianne Moore.” ABC-CLIO). Marianne Moore died on February 5, 1972 in New York City, at the age of 84. Her unique, Modernist style of writing left its mark on everyone.

Sylvia Plath
Syd Tustin
(Sylvia Plath)

Sylvia Plath was born on October 27, 1932, in Boston, Massachusetts. She was a mid-twentieth century poet. Sylvia Plath was the first child of Otto Plath and Aurelia Schober- Plath. Otto Plath taught at Boston University and had a very big interest in bees(Steinbeck). Sylvia’s father suffered from an undiagnosed depressive disorder. His disorder affected Sylvia a lot. She went through long periods of depression and periods of productivity where it wasn’t as severe. When Sylvia Plath was eight years old her father died from his disorder. During Otto’s illness Sylvia and her younger brother were confined to an area of the house their father did not use. This had a profound impact on Sylvia’s later poetry which involves an image of a removed father, and a man she cannot reach. Another theme in her work was her father’s apparent death-wish. Sylvia believed her father’s dead was really a suicide. Plath wrote her first published poem when she was eight years old. It was in Winthrop, in the Boston Herald’s section. Sylvia Plath became very depressed later on because of the many changes in her life. For example, when her family moved from a Oceanside house in Winthrop she had grew up in to a suburb outside of Boston. She became very close and dependent on the sea’s power and beauty. Being so far away from the sea and knowing you lost a relationship with it was very difficult. She was already unstable with her life in Winthrop. It made her dad seem more distant, dreadful, and made his loss more painful.

“Sylvia Plath's intense ambition to write a novel provides one of the main and most distressful themes of her early journals. Her inability to start--or worse, her various attempts to start--brought her repeatedly to near despair.” Ted Hughes. She agonized about style, tone, structure, and subject matter. The feelings of loss, rejection, fear, and loneliness came into her life (Steinbeck). That initiated her later poetry. Plath wrote her first story in Seventeen Magazine while still in high school. Most of her poems were secretly telling a story of her agony and sadness in her life. One of her greatest published work raised her popularity in the poetry world was “The Bell Jar”. She wrote that in 1936 under a pseudonym, Victoria Lucas (ABC-CLIO). It was about the alienation of women and stereotypes. It talked about how the women during that times were limited in their life and seemed to only have a husband or have kids, and not as many opportunities for a more exciting career as men. Sylvia Plath was a very successful women, she always was at the top in her class. She was offered many scholarships to very prestigious schools. Ever since she was a child, she was around a disturbed family, even when her sick father passed away the damage he left for his family stuck with them. This tragic event scarred Sylvia emotionally and was the cause of her depression. (Despite her remarkable artistic, academic, and social success at Smith, Plath suffered from severe depression and underwent a period of psychiatric hospitalization.
Sylvia and Ted Hughes (Plath)
Sylvia and Ted Hughes (Plath)

. She graduated from Smith with highest honors in 1955 and went on to Newnham College in Cambridge, England, on a Fulbright
fellowship.( ABC-CLIO). She had two kids Frieda and Nicholas with her college sweetheart, Ted Hughes.
“ In a review of Plath’s poetry Posthumous said Sylvia’s suicide represented a persuasive middle-class social problem. Her metaphors existed in a world apart from their linguistic structures.” Posthumous. The moments of happiness in her poems started to pilfer away and soon they were gone completely. Her sarcasm drastically changed in to a much darker tone blending into her dominant tone of despair.
Sylvia with Nicholas and Frieda
Sylvia with Nicholas and Frieda
The winter of 1962-63, one of the coldest in centuries, found Sylvia living in a small London flat, now with two children, ill with the flu and low on money. The hardness of her life seemed to increase her need to write, and she often worked between four and eight in the morning, before the children woke, sometimes finishing a poem a day. In these last poems it is as if some deeper, powerful self has grabbed control; death is given a cruel physical allure and psychic pain becomes almost tactile.(Bill Gilson). In the early 1960’s Sylvia’s poem were described as controlled hallucination, an odd lyric voice, half mocking, half managerial, nor the scream or plea of dying. On February 11, 1963, Sylvia Plath killed herself with cooking gas at the age of 30.(Britannia). Her husband, Ted Hughes, wrote a long detailed biography on Sylvia after she died. Some of her poems weren’t published until after she died. Sylvia wrote over four- hundred poems. She was a model citizen, popular, intelligent, good wife and mother, wrote amazing poems, however it was because of her father’s that she became so overwhelmed and got in such a slump that she felt like it was impossible to get back on her feet which resulted in her suicide.

Works Cited

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“Marianne Moore.” Poets.org. 26 Oct. 2008 <http://www.poets.org/.php

McKay, Nellie Y. “Brooks, Gwendolyn.” World Book Online. World Book Online Reference Center. 2008. 23 Oct. 2008 <http://www.worldbookonline.com/‌wb/‌Article?id=ar078600>.

Shuman, R. Baird, ed. Great American Writers. 4 vols. Twentieth Century. New
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Steinberg, Peter K. "Biography." SylviaPlath.info. 2008. 28 Oct. 2008

"Sylvia Plath." American History. 2008. ABC-CLIO. 23 Oct. 2008 <http://www.americanhistory.abc-clio.com>.

"Sylvia Plath." Encyclopedia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 24 Oct. 2008 <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/464059/Sylvia-Plath>.

Urger, Leonard. “Introduction.” Introduction. Seven Modern American Poets. By Leonard Urger. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1967. 3-8.

“We Real Cool.” Thomas Galebvgh . Poetry for Students ed. Vol. 6. 1999. 23 Oct. 2008 <http://find.galegroup.com/‌gvrl/‌infomark.do?&contentSet=EBKS&type=retrieve&tabID=T001&prodId=GVRL&docId=CX2691400028&source=gale&userGroupName=erde79591&version=1.0>.

Works Consulted

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Cunningham, Imogen. Marianne Moore (1887-1972). Photograph. ArteF. 28 Oct. 2008 <http://www.artef.com/ImogenCunningham/index.htm>.

Marianne Moore (1887 - 1972). Photograph. FamousPoetsandPoems.com. 2008. 28 Oct.
2008 <http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/marianne_moore/photo>.

“Marianne Moore.” Answers.com. 26 Oct. 2008 <http://www.answers.com

“Marianne Moore Quotes.” Said What. 26 Oct. 2008 <http://www.saidwhat.co.uk///_moore>.

Marianne Moore with Langston Hughes. Photograph. 1952. Mending the Break in
Time. 14 Nov. 2001. 28 Oct. 2008 <http://www.writing.upenn.edu/

Plath. Photograph. 28 June 2008 <http://www.sylviaplath.deLetters Home: Correspondence,1950-1963>.

Sylvia Plath. Photograph. American History. 2008. ABC-CLIO. 23 Oct. 2008

T.S. Eliot. Photograph. 2008. 28 Oct. 2008 <http://www.fondazione-delbianco.org/seminari/progetti_prof/progview_PL.asp?start=1&idprog=52>.