Some 20th century poetry

Warm up


On modern poetry
We have now arrived in the 20th century. The poetry of the 20th century is simply immense and it is hard to chose a list of major works. But here we have a selection, anyway.

Task 1
Read one, or several, of the poems below. Write about their mood, message, and meaning.

Mood – How would you describe the feeling the poem has or is trying to portray?
Message – How would you interpret what the poem ”is trying to tell you”?
Meaning – What did you think about the language in the poem? Any particular line that was powerful or caught your attention? Why? Any particular line or word that you thought about or had to look up?

Post as a comment.

Task 2
Choose a poem, or song, with a lyrics that you find interesting. Comment on its mood, message, and meaning.

Post as a comment. Include the text and author in the posting.

List of modern poems
1. The Wasteland – T S Eliot

April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.

Read the rest here

2. Howl – Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg is best known for Howl (1956), a long poem about the self-destruction of his friends of the Beat Generation and what he saw as the destructive forces of materialism and conformity in United States at the time.

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
connection to the starry dynamo in the machin-
ery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat
up smoking in the supernatural darkness of
cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities
contemplating jazz,
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and
saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tene-
ment roofs illuminated,
who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes
hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy
among the scholars of war,
who were expelled from the academies for crazy &
publishing obscene odes on the windows of the

Read the rest here

3. Daddy – Sylvia Plath. Along with Anne Sexton, Plath is credited with advancing the genre of confessional poetry.

You do not do, you do not do
Any more, black shoe
In which I have lived like a foot
For thirty years, poor and white,
Barely daring to breathe or Achoo. Daddy, I have had to kill you.
You died before I had time–
Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,
Ghastly statue with one gray toe
Big as a Frisco seal And a head in the freakish Atlantic
Where it pours bean green over blue
In the waters off beautiful Nauset.
I used to pray to recover you.
Ach, du.

Read the rest here

4. The Snow Man – Wallace Stevens

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow; And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves, Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

5. This is just to say – Carolos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox and which
you were probably
for breakfast. Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold.

6. The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

7. The Road Not Taken – Robert Frost

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 5

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same, 10

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back. 15

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

8. O me! O life! – Walt Whitman (1892)

Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

11 reaktioner till “Some 20th century poetry”

  1. Robert Frost – The Road Less Traveled

    Mood – How would you describe the feeling the poem has or is trying to portray?

    I think it a beautiful poem since it has the courtisy to rhyme (I have issues with chaos, and that is why punk is dead to me) and provokes thought with an half-hidden and slightly obscure message.

    Message – How would you interpret what the poem ”is trying to tell you”?

    For me the two roads signify the different choices you are bound to make in life. It is hard when you can imagine the different possible outcomes for both, as an example ”then took the other, just as fair, and having perhaps the better claim” and ”Though as for that the passing there had worn them really about the same”. One of the ‘paths’ seem to be easier or more pleasant to travel, but what will the result be in the end? An equal amount of people seem to have been traveling the two, so which choice is the correct one?
    ”… And knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back” – life does not slow down, and it’s not often where you have to take the same decisions multiple times though-out.
    Another message people over the world have been debating over is whether or not Frost was saying that it does not matter which path you lead – life will end in a similar manner disregarding your choices. In short: No matter, you always die in the end anyways.
    This is my mother’s as well as my own favorite poem thus far, so we’ve talked about it a few times. Not that we’ve made any astonishing conclusions, I just chose it based on that fact. It is also the only poem I know by heart, which makes the assignment easier since I don’t have to scroll upwards all the time.

    Meaning – What did you think about the language in the poem? Any particular line that was powerful or caught your attention? Why? Any particular line or word that you thought about or had to look up?

    I think the entire thing is powerful, but more so when you really see and sort of understand the symbolics (around verse 3 and 4). ”I shall be telling this with a sigh, somewhere ages and ages hence. Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”


  2. Linkin Park – Numb
    The mood in this song is a sad one and is in my opinion about the relationship between a kid and his parents. The relationship is not very good due to the fact that the parents have very high expectations of their child. The parents want their child to be exactly like them, to be ”perfect” but no matter how much the child tries, he never lives up to their expectations. At the same time it feels as if the child has had enough of trying to walk in his parents footsteps, and he wants to live his own life. A line in the song describes this very well: ”…by becoming this all I want to do, Is be more like me and be less like you”. Another strong line that is in the song is ”every step that I take is another mistake to you” and is about how the child feels like he can’t do anything to make his parents proud, and everything he does, is and always will be a failure.


  3. Work shoes by USS

    The song describes a feel for renewal, That something is going to change into something new, being in a stressful and probably depressing state of trying to save up energy to change everything and/or leave everyting behind.

    What the song is about is that someone is tired of their work and saves up all their money to do something new, something this person wants to do instead of a deadbeat job. It could be describing the state of many people; about how they feel at work and they just want to be done with it.

    The lyrics to this song is very playful and filled with different popculture refrenses that don’t really make any sense, like: Kryptonite the sun, record’s build to spin, life is like a fortune cookiepuzzle to complete. The duo USS usually make songs with lyrics that don’t really make any sense in the first place, thay kinda make you, yourself, try to make a meaning out of what they have written down.


  4. No Diggity (feat. Dr. Dre & Queen Pen) – by Blackstreet

    (just a part of the whole lyric)

    It’s going down, fade to blackstreet
    The homies got rb, collab’ creations
    Bump like acne, no doubt
    I put it down, never slouch
    As long as my credit can vouch
    A dog couldn’t catch me ass out
    Tell me who can stop when dre makin’ moves
    Attracting honeys like a magnet
    Giving ‘em eargasms with my mellow accent
    Still moving this flavor
    With the homies blackstreet and teddy
    The original rump shakers

    Shorty get down, good lord
    Baby got ‘em up open all over town
    Strictly biz, she don’t play around
    Cover much ground, got game by the pound
    Getting paid is her forte
    Each and every day, true player way
    I can’t get her out of my mind
    I think about the girl all the time
    East side to the west side
    Pushin’ phat rides, it’s no surprise
    She got tricks in the stash
    Stacking up the cash
    Fast when it comes to the gas
    By no means average
    She’s on when she’s got to have it
    Baby, you’re a perfect ten, I wanna get in
    Can I get down, so I can win

    I like the way you work it
    No diggity, I got to bag it up, bag it up

    She’s got class and style
    Street knowledge by the pound
    Baby never act wild, very low key on the profile
    Catchin’ feelings is a no
    Let me tell you how it goes
    Curve’s the words, spins the verbs
    Lovers it curves so freak what you heard
    Rollin’ with the phatness
    You don’t even know what the half is
    You gotta pay to play
    Just for shorty, bang-bang, to look your way
    I like the way you work it
    Trumped tight all day, every day
    You’re blowing my mind, maybe in time
    Baby, I can get you in my ride

    Mood: encouraging, upbeat and motivating

    Message: How you should be, ”be yourself”, and that women are more or less ”bad-ass” (?) and independent.

    Meaning: (Same as message. )


  5. J. Cole an Afrikan-American rapper calls out shallow woman, and points to ”No role modelz” as the problem. He doesn´t claim to be perfecft thouth, he also raps about how his own flaws are linked to growing up without a father figure. The song is about women and he tries to tell ”how you should treat a woman” perfectly. So the message is ”the best way to treat a woman”. J.Cole has no ego but like others raper he tries to show that he is better and he knows better how to treate a girl. So he has ego indirectly. The meaning of ”No role modelz” is about materialstic women in reality TV shows in US and he blelives that the only talentes they got is just to be a reality TV stars and nothing else.


  6. Task 1
    7. The Road Not Taken – Robert Frost
    mood – Make good choices and dare to take risks.
    message – the poem is trying to tell us to be able to take hard tasks, risks. And all the choices we make do matter
    meaning –
    I doubted if I should ever come back.15
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference. these lines just strengthen my opinion about the poem being mainly on risk taking

    Task 2

    Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

    Sonnet 18” by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

    Mood – love
    Message – the poem enlightens the beauty of someone and it’s compared to a summer day.
    Meaning – Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee. Two of the best lines. this poem describes someone’s prominent beauty by comparing it to a summer day but the only thing that changes is the last sentence because he says as long as the poem lives, the life of the person will never fade away.


  7. ”These Borders Don’t Trump” By Amidst The Grave’s Demons

    They’re bringing drugs
    They’re bringing crime
    They’re rapists
    Our only choice is to
    Build that wall

    I’ll make them pay for it

    These borders won’t be
    Paved with gold
    We have to build something
    That will always hold
    Hardened concrete, rebar and steel
    I wrote ‘The Art of the Deal’
    With a small loan of $1,000,000
    I build a name for myself
    It’s on my towers
    There’s not a single person
    Better than me
    I’m the only choice for the presidency

    I will always beat China
    We have to deal with China

    I can make it
    Like it was back then
    If we can just take a stand
    And make America great again

    Vote for me
    And I’ll change the world

    Terrorists are going to
    Kill all of our children
    The only way to keep them safe
    Is to deport Muslims
    And keep them away

    Drone strikes
    In the Middle East
    We have to take out
    All their families
    I literally said this on
    Fox & Friends
    But my polls are great
    And I’ll probably win

    We’ll build a wall
    And make it tall
    We’ll build a wall
    My hands aren’t small

    ”They’re regular sized.”

    This is a satirical song about our beloved US president Donald Trump. I would describe the mood a very unserious. Everything in the song is either a direct quotes from Trump or exaggerations of things he have said. The message is pretty clear, Trump is a bad presidential candidate.

    Some of the lines in the song are extreme american beliefs like
    ”Terrorists are going to
    Kill all of our children
    The only way to keep them safe
    Is to deport Muslims
    And keep them away”

    I think they are there to show why Trump got so popular and also to show how stupid it is. This line is later followed up with
    ”Drone strikes
    In the Middle East
    We have to take out
    All their families”
    To show a different side of the problem.


  8. Task 1:
    Daddy by Sylvia Plath
    Mood – It is a very powerful poem as I believe it comes from a place of both anger and grief. The words used is metaphorically brilliant, how they really convey a feeling of helplessness. This is only a fraction of the full poem but it is still very heavy.

    Message – I looked up and read a bit of the full poem. When I read it I got a strong sense of feminism leaking through the words. In a way she portrays herself as a victim of her father. It is almost like she is taking a stance with her words, rage towards male dominance. And the poem itself is something that spurs your mind, it makes you think and feel. But it is also on of those poems that has more than one meaning, it all depends on the beholder.

    Meaning – The language is both straight forward and symbolical at the same time. Metaphors are used to really portray an image of what she felt like growing up. The language is both beautiful and heavy. The line that I reacted to most was the last one ”I used to pray to recover you. Ach, du.”

    The poem is about her deceased father, from what you can tell from the poem he was not the nicest man. I could never possibly relate to being in such a situation, I have no idea how it is to grow up with anything but an amazing father. Which is why I reacted so strongly to not only the poem itself but in particular to the last line. It really made me think about how not everyone is so fortunate to grow up in a loving family. And to think about a young girl all but being ”oppressed” in her home is truly heartbreaking.

    Task 2:
    Svarta ögon – Thomas Stenström

    Jag fick en sådan smäll från dig, att jag aldrig hämtat mig.
    Jag kan inte hjälpa det, men jag har aldrig lärt mig gå.
    Om jag fattat vem du var, då skulle jag ha gått den dan.

    Ja, jag skulle backat skulle gått, och svalt min stolthet för en gång.

    Dom svarta ögonen hos dig.
    Dom lämnar aldrig mig.
    Dom svarta ögonen hos dig.
    Dom finns alltid där.

    Har aldrig lärt mig kolla ner.
    Är nånting fel vill jag ha mer.
    Jag vet ju vad som kommer ske, men ändå står jag där och ler.
    Nej, det finns ingen bortförklaring här.
    Jag borde bara backat då och där.
    Jag vet ju att jag inte vill, men ändå ber jag om en till.

    Dom svarta ögonen hos dig.
    Dom lämnar aldrig mig.
    Dom svarta ögonen hos dig.
    Dom finns alltid där.

    I den mörka staden mötte vi varann.
    Krossat glas och hela världen brann.
    Kunde blundat, gjort det enklare.
    Kolla och har aldrig ångrat det.

    Mood – The song portrays a feeling a kind of desperation and hopeless. It is something that most people can relate to which is why it is so easy to feel a certain while listening to or reading the lyrics.

    Message – The song is basically about knowing when to walk away but not being able to. Being so absolutely enticed by someone that you can take a couple of punches as long as you get to be with that person. But it comes a time when you have to learn, when you have to make the difficult decision to walk away because it is the most healthy thing to do.

    Meaning – The language is almost like the one of a poem. It is very easy going, not that difficult to understand but that only brings the message forward. It is supposed to be one of those songs that alost everyone can relate to. To put into words what so many of os feel.


  9. At my best -Machine Gun Kelly ft. Hailee Steinfeld

    This whole song is about telling you that it’s okay to be yourself. You shouldn’t change yourself for anyone, you should just do you and not care about what other people say. There is one part of the song where he raps ”This song’s for anybody, yeah
    Who feels like I did, never the cool kid
    This song’s for anybody
    Who fought their way through, always remain true
    This song’s for anybody
    The one’s who tryin’ to get it, the one’s who dream it and live it
    This song’s for anybody”
    The song literally goes out to anybody, people who struggle, people who made it, people who are trying to get to where they need to be. And he wants to remind you that no matter what you’re always gonna be good enough as you are.
    The chorus of the song kind of brings that to life
    ”I shout, I swear, I get angry, I get scared
    I fall, I break, I mess up, I make mistakes
    But if you can’t take me at my worst
    You don’t deserve me at my best”
    Nobody’s perfect, everybody is human and all of us makes mistakes but what he wants to get out here is that if people don’t want to deal with you when you’re at your worst, then fuck those guys. You don’t need them in your life, you’re perfect the way you are and if someone tries to take that from you, don’t let them.
    A line in the song that really caught my eye (ear?) is the one ”I been hurt, I seen the scar tissue
    If I show you, would you run away?” Which I interpret as someone who is carrying a heavy load in life and been through a lot and if they were to tell someone about all that, would people listen? Or would people turn their backs towards the person because it will be too much.


  10. Raubtier- Dragunov

    (Priviet motherfuckers I am Vladimir,
    I belive in mother Russia and I persevere.
    I was a Spetsnaz in the red army
    and there was no better killer than me
    But the Glasnost came and I lost my job,
    and became a hitman for the russian mob
    I shot and killed both pimps and tsars for Vodka, guns and kaviar.

    Dragunov and Stolichnaya,
    Smirnoff and Kalashnikov

    I freelanced until 94 as a volunteer in the Balkan war
    and then went home to Stalingrad for cars and women, ruble and blood.
    So if you live in constant fear
    just call and ask for … Vladimir.
    I do the business someone dies,
    nastarov’je and goodbye!

    Dragunov and Stolichnaya,
    Smirnoff and Kalashnikov)

    Analysis of the song: At a first glance you may not think this song has a very deep message but with an academic mindset and dedicated research you’ll come to a very different conclusion. From analyzing this song, I’ve come to the conclusion that this song is about money, blood and women aswell as fast cars and alcohol. One could say that it’s the Russian equivalent of the American Dream and therefore this song is about encouraging people to follow their heart and never give up on their dreams. That makes Dragunov a song with a happy and inspiring mood. An example of this is how Vladimir, from living an exciting and adventurous life, loses his job but keeps on fighting until he succeeds and goes on to living a healthy life with lots of alcohol , women and guns.



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