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History represented in Poetry

How are the conflicts of the twentieth century represented in its poetry?
Literature Essay

  • Assessment: essay
  • Mark: A
  • Year: 2005
  • Wordcount: 2259

On the one hand, the twentieth century is representative of elementary political conflicts. The two World Wars, the collapse of different ideologies such as Fascism and Communism, a long period of Cold War between the USA and the Soviet Union are the major political disputes of this time period. On the other hand, the 20th century is a period of major internal conflicts too. Hence, the change of social structures is a reflection of feminist achievement and the Flower Power of the 1970s indicates an alteration in sexual behaviour. Questions of identity, which are related to nationalism and language, have arisen and although they often end in isolation and insecurity they represent inner conflicts and critical arguments.
W.H. Auden in his poem “In memory of W.B. Yeats” unifies external and internal conflicts and is as a result representative of the controversies of the 20th century. Louis MacNeice with “House on a cliff” deals with these external and internal conflicts similarly when he plays with the words “indoor” and “outdoor” (Keegan, 977). In contrast, his poem “Meeting point” reflects the dispute of time, which is just “away” and “somewhere else” (Keegan, 939-940) so that the opposite of a conflict, this impressive convergence of two people, can take place. Feminism is one way of interpreting Jenni Joseph’s “Warning” but the contrast of age and youth is also an interesting way of looking at this poem.

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