The major writers of the Modern Period
Ⅰ。Ezra Pound （1885-1972）
Ezra Pound's contribution to American literature： Pound was one of the most important poets and critics of his time and he was regarded as the father of modern American poetry. He is a leading spokesman of the "Imagist Movement"， which though short-lived， had a tremendous influence on modern poetry.
His major works：
Pound composed poems， wrote criticisms and did translations.
（1） His poetic works： In 1915 Pound began writing his great work， The Cantos， which spanned from 1917 to 1959 and were collected in The Cantos of Ezra Pound （1986）。 He joined a famous literary salon run by an American woman writer Gertrude Stein， and became involved in the experimentations on poetry. His other poetic works include twelve volumes of verse Collected Early Poems of Ezra Pound （1982）， and Personae （1909）， and some longer pieces such as Hugh Selwyn Mauberley （1920）。
（2） His critical essays： Make It New （l934）， Literary Essays （l954）， The ABC of Reading （1934） and Polite Essays （l937）， etc. These essays best reflect Pound's appraisals of literary traditions and of modern writing.
（3） His translations： The Translations of Ezra Pound （1953）， Confucius （1969）， and Shih-Ching （1954） These translations have not only cast light on Pound's affinity to the Chinese and his strenuous effort in the study of Oriental literature， but also offered us a clue to the understanding of his poetry and literary theory. From the analysis of the Chinese ideogram Pound learned to anchor his poetic language in concrete， perceptual reality， and to organize images into larger patterns through juxtoposition.
1. Ezra Pound's poetic subjects or themes：
（1） His earlier poetry is saturated with the familiar poetic subjects that characterize the 19th century Romanticism： songs in praise of a lady， songs concerning the poet's craft， love and friendship， death， the transience of beauty and the permanence of art， and some other subjects that Pound could call his own： the pain of exile， metamorphosis， the delightful psychic experience， the ecstatic moment， etc.
（2） Later he is more concerned about the problems of the modern culture： the contemporary cultural decay and the possible sources of cultural renewal as well. In The Cantos， Pound traces the rise and fall of eastern and western empires， the moral and social chaos of the modern world， especially the corruption of America after the heroic time of Jefferson. From the perception of these things， stems the poet's search for order， which involves a search for the principles on which the poet's craft is based.
2. His artistic achievment：
（1） He is the leader of the Imagist Movement：
Led by the American poet Ezra Pound， Imagist Movement is a poetic movement that flourished in the U.S. and England between 1909-1917. It advances modernism in arts which concentrated on reforming the medium of poetry as opposed to Romanticism， especially Tennyson's wordiness and high-flown language in poetry. Pound endorsed three main principles as guidelines for Imagism， including direct treatment of poetic subjects， elimination of merely ornamental or superfluous words， and rhythmical composition in the sequence of the musical phrase rather than in the sequence of a metronome. The primary Imagist objective is to avoid rhetoric and moralizing， to stick closely to the object or experience being described， and to move from explicit generalization. The leading poets are Ezra Pound， Wallace Stevens， D.H.Lawrence， etc. Pound's famous one-image poem "In a Station of the Metro" would serve as a typical example of the Imagist ideas.
（2） His use of myth and personae：
Pound argued that the poet cannot relate a delightful psychic experience by speaking out directly in the first person： he must "screen himself" and speak indirectly through as impersonal and objective story， which is usually a myth or a piece of the earlier literature， or a "mask，" that is a persona. In this way， Pound could sustain a dialogue between past and present succesfully. （persona： It is an invented person； a character in drama or fiction. Persona， a Latin word meaning "mask ，" is used in Jungian psychology to refer to one's "public personality"-the facade or mask presented to the world but not representative of inner feelings and emotions. In literary criticism， persona is sometimes used to refer to a person figuring in， for example， a poem， someone who may or may not represent the author himself. ）
（3） His language：
His lines are usually oblique yet marvelously compressed. His poetry is dense with personal， literary， and historical allusions， but at the expense of syntax and summary statements.
1. In a Station of the Metro
（1） Theme： This poem is an observation of the poet of the human faces seen in a Paris subway station or a description of a moment of sudden emotion at seeing beautiful faces in a Metro in Paris. He sees the faces， turned variously toward light and darkness， like flower petals which are half absorbed by， half resisting， the wet， dark texture of a bough.
（2） The one image in this poem： This poem is probably the most famous of all imagist poems. In two lines it combines a sharp visual image or two juxtoposed images （意象叠加） "Petals on a wet， black bough" with an implied meaning. The faces in the dim light of the Metro suggest both the impersonality and haste of city life and the greater transience of human life itself. The word "apparition" is a well-chosen one which has a two-fold meaning： Firstly， it means a visible appearance of something real. Secondly， it builds an image of a ghostly sight， a delusive and unexpected appearance.
（3） Pound uses the fewest possible words to convey an accurate image， which is the principle of the Imagist poetry. This poem looks to be a modern adoption of the haiku form of Japanese poetry which adapts the 3-line， 17 syllable and where the title is an intergral part of the whole. The poem succeeds largely because of its internal rhymes： station/apparition； Metro/petals/wet； crowd/bough. Its form was determined by the experience that inspired it， involving organically rather than being chosen arbitrarily.
2. The River-Merchant's Wife： A Letter
（1） Theme： It is an adaptation from the Chinese Li Po （701-762） named Rihaku in Japanese， which， by means of vivid images and shifting tones， describes the silky shy tenderness of the young wife writing to her absent husband the river-merchant.
The history of her feelings for her husband develops as the following： her bashfulness when she was a young girl， her spiritual affinity with him during the phase of their marriage， the material nature of her love at the time of his departure as well as her longing for his return when she grows old.
（2） use of images and allusion： In this poem Pound uses images such as "hair" "grown moss" "falling leaves" to suggest the passing years and growing age. Besides， Pound employs an allusion to "a story of a woman waiting for her husband on a hill." In Pound's version， the line emphasizes the otherworldly nature of her love during her marriage.
3. A Pact
This poem is about Pound's evaluation on Whitman. Pound started to find some agreement between "Whitmanesque" free verse， which he had attacked for its carelessness in composition， and the "verse libre" of the Imagists who showed more concern for formal values. In the poem Pound affirmed Whitman's contribution in the experiment on the form and content of American poetry and expressed his eagerness to communicate with Whitman……
Ⅱ。 Robert Lee Frost （l874-l963）
His life and writing：
Frost is an important poet in the 20th century .He won the Pulitzer Prize four times and read poetry at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy in 1961.
He spent his early childhood in the Far West and later the family moved to New Hampshire. He went to Harvard but left in the middle because of his tuberculosis. When he was 28， he began to venture on writing.
His major works：
His first book A Boy's Will （1913）， whose lyrics trace a boy's development from self-centered idealism to maturity， is marked by an intense but restrained emotion and the characteristic flavor of New Eng1and life. His second book， a volume of poems North of Boston （1914）， is described by the author as "a book of people，" which shows a brilliant insight into New England character and the background that formed it. Many of his major poems are collected in this volume， such as "Mending the Wall，" in which Frost saw man as learning from nature the
zones of his own 1imitations， and "Home Buria1，" which probes the darker corners of individual lives in a situation where man cannot accept the facts of his condition. Mountain Interval （19l6） contains such characteristic poems as "The Road Not Taken，" "Birches". New Hampshire （1923） that won Frost the first of four Pulitzer Prizes includes "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"， which stems from the ambiguity of the speaker's choice between safety and the unknown. The collection West-Running Brook （1928） poses disturbing uncertainties about man's prowess and importance. Collected Poems （l930） and A Further Range （1935） gathered Frost's second and third Pulitzer Prizes. Both translate modern upheaval into poetic materia1 the poet could skillfully control. Frost's fourth Pulitzer Prize was awarded for A Witness Tree （l942） which includes "The Gift Outright，" the poem he later recited at President Kennedy's inauguration. Frost took up a religious question most notably in "After Apple-Picking：" can a man's best efforts ever satisfy God？ A Masque of Reason （l945） and A Masque of Mercy （1947） are comic-serious dramatic narratives， in both of which biblical characters in modern settings discuss ethics and man's re1ations to God.
1. His thematic concerns：
（1） Generally Frost is considered a regional poet whose subject matters mainly focus on the landscape and people in New England. These thematic concerns include the terror and tragedy in nature， as well as its beauty， and the 1oneliness and poverty of the isolated human being. But first and foremost Frost is concerned with his love of life and his belief in a serenity that only came from working usefully， which he practiced himself throughout his life.
（2） Frost wrote many poems that investigate the basic themes of man's life： the individual's relationships to himself， to his fellow-man， to world， and to his God. Profound meanings are hidden underneath the plain language and simple form. His poetry， by using nature as a storehouse of analogy and symbol， often probes mysteries of darkness and irrationality in the bleak and chaotic landscapes of an indifferent universe when men stand alone， unaided and perplexed.
2. His nature poems：
Robert Frost is mainly known for his poems concerning New England life. He learned from the tradition， especially the familiar conventions of nature poetry and of classical pastoral poetry， and made the colloquial New England speech into a poetic expression. A poem so conceived thus becomes a symbo1 or metaphor， a careful， loving exploration of reality， in Frost's version， "a momentary stay against confusion." Many of his poems are fragrant with natural quality. Images and metaphors in his poems are drawn from the rural world， the simple country 1ife and the pastoral 1andscape. However， profound ideas are delivered under the disguise of the p1ain language and the simple form， for what Frost did is to take symbols from the limited human world and the pastoral landscape to refer to the great world beyond the rustic scene. These thematic concerns include the terror and tragedy in nature， as well as its beauty， and the 1oneliness and poverty of the isolated human being. But first and foremost Frost is concerned with his love of life and his belief in a serenity that only came from working usefully， which he practiced himself throughout his life.
3. Frost's style in language：
By using simple spoken language and conversational rhythms， Frost achieved an effortless grace in his style. He combined traditiona1 verse forms —— the sonnet， rhyming coup1ets， blank verse with a clear American local speech rhythm， the speech of New England farmers with its idiosyncratic diction and syntax. In verse form he was assorted； he wrote in both the metrical forms and the free verse， and sometimes he wrote in a form that borrows freely from the merits of both， in a form that might be called semi-free or semi-conventional.
l. After Apple-Picking
This poem is so vivid a memory of experience on the farm in which the end of labor leaves the speaker with a sense of completion and fulfilment yet finds him blocked from success by winter's approach and physical weariness. On the one hand， Frost expressed his love of life and his belief in a serenity that only came from working usefully. On the other hand， the poet was concerned with individual's relationships to himself， to his fellow-man， to world， and to his God. He took up a religious question： can a man's best efforts ever satisfy God？
Besides this is a typical lyric poem describing the pastoral landscape in New England. Symbols and images from the pastoral landscape to refer to the great world beyond the rustic scene.
The language of this poem is characterized by simple spoken language and conversational rhythms， the combination of traditiona1 verse forms —— the sonnet， rhyming coup1ets， blank verse with the speech of New England farmers with its idiosyncratic diction and syntax. Frost wrote in both the metrical forms and the free verse， in a form that might be called semi-free or semi-conventional.
2. The Road Not Taken
（1） The theme： This poem seems to be about the poet， walking in the woods in autumn， hesitating for a long time and wondering which road he should take since they are both pretty. In reality， this is a meditative poem symbolically written. It concerns the important decisions which one must take in the course of life， when one must give up one desirable thing in order to possess another. Then， whatever the outcome， one must accept the consequences of one's choice for it is not possible to go back and have another chance to choose differently. In the poem， he followed the one which was not frequently travelled by. Symbolically， he chose to follow an unusual， solitary life； perhaps he was speaking of his choice to become a poet rather than some common profession. But he always remembered the road which he might have taken， and which would have given him a different kind of life.
（2） Language： This poem is written in classic five-line stanzas， with the rhyme scheme a-b-a-a-b and conversational rhythm. The poet uses "the road " to symbolize life's journey.
3. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
（1） The theme： This is a deceptively simple poem in which the speaker literally stops his horse in the winter twilight to observe the beauty of the forest scene， and then is moved to continue his journey. Philosophically and symbolically， it stems from the ambiguity of the speaker's choice between safety and the unknown.
（2） This poem suggests deep thought about death and about life. The strange attraction of death to man is symbolized by the dark woods silently filled up with the coldness of snow. Frost frequently uses the technique of symbolism in his poetry. Some critics think that the "village" stands for the human world， "woods" for nature， "horse" for the animal world， and "promises" for obligations. The poem represents a moment of relaxation from the burdensome journey of life， an almost aesthetic enjoyment and appreciation of natural beauty which is wholesome and restorative against the chaotic existence of modern man.
（3） The last stanza shows a kind of sad， sentimental but also strong and responsible feeling. The attraction of the beauty of the nature makes the speaker stop in the journey. He finally turns away from it， with a certain weariness and yet with quiet determination， to face the needs of life. This stresses the central conflict of the poem between man's enjoyment of nature's beauty and his responsibility in society. This shows a man's despairing courage to seek out the meaning of life.
In the last stanza， the three adjectives "lovely" "dark" "deep" reinforce one another. Not only do they represent beauty and terror of nature symbolized by the dark woods， but they also reveal the speaker's love for nature and human isolation from it. Besides， the word "sleep" here means "die" symbolically.