In the 19th century American poetry was a major part of everyday life, everything from hymn and a love song to patriotic exhortation. The 19th century open up the diversity and vigor of traditions. It embraces the genius storytellers and solitary visionaries, dissidents and humorists, philosophers and songwriters.
The evolution of American poetry has been taking place from the monumental works of Emily Dickinson and Herman Melville up to the modern poets like Edwin Arlington Robinson and T.S. Elliot.
The poetry reflected everything: antislavery protests and poetic calls to arms in the marching songs. It also left on the paper muted post bellum expressions of reconciliation and grief: ushered in a period of accelerating change and widening regional perspectives. Among the unfamiliar pleasures to be savored in this essay are the penetrating meditations of the reclusive Frederick Goddard Tuckerman, the eloquent lyricism of Emma Lazarus, the mournful, superbly crafted fin de sickle verse of Trumbull Stickney.
Poetry evolution also included pioneering African American poets such as Frances Harper, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Albery Allson Whitman, and such famous humorists as Eugene Field and James Whitcomb Riley, writers embodying America’s newfound cosmopolitanism (Edith Wharton, George Santayana); and extravagant self-mythologizing figures who could have existed nowhere else, like the actress Adah Isaacs Menken and the frontier poet Joaquin Miller. Parodies, dialect poems, song lyrics, and children’s verse evoke the liveliness of an era when poetry was accessible to all. Here are poems that played a crucial role in American public life, whether to arouse the national conscience (Edwin Markham’s “The Man with the Hoe”) or to memorialize the golden age of the national pastime (Ernest Lawrence Thayer’s “Casey at the Bat”).
A big move in the American Poetry was so called Transcendentalism that started in the early nineteenth century. The most famous representatives of this trend were writers Crane, Dunbar, Pound, H.D., Hughes, Millay, Stevens, Roethke, Plath, W.C Williams. All of them contributed ideas of imagination, individualism and nature in the poetry through their works.
There are some that make these characteristics more evident than others are such as, Paul Laurence Dunbar, that was the first African-American to gain national eminence as a poet. Born in 1872 in Dayton, Ohio, he was the son of ex-slaves and classmate to Orville Wright of aviation fame.
Although he lived to be only 33 years old, Dunbar was prolific, writing short stories, novels, librettos, plays, songs and essays as well as the poetry for which he became well known. He was popular with black and white readers of his day, and his works are celebrated today by scholars and school children alike.
His style encompasses two distinct voices — the standard English of the classical poet and the evocative dialect of the turn-of-the-century black community in America. He was gifted in poetry — the way that Mark Twain was in prose — in using dialect to convey character.
There are some authors that were greatly influenced by transcendentalist poetry. Building on a tradition centered on Whitman, Dickinson, Frost, Stevens, H. D., and William Carlos Williams, and experimenting with both free verse and classic prosody, Roethke and A. R. Ammons are often singled out as representing a new kind of nature poet. There are Transcendental and romantic themes in the work of both of these artists, but we also see them looking at details, and at change, in a manner suggestive of the modern scientific mind. For both of these poets, spiritual consolations have to be reconciled with the facts as they present themselves, small often-surprising facts that most American nature poets before Dickinson and Frost would not have welcomed in verse.
Another one is Louis Ginsberg, he was a published poet, a high school teacher and a moderate Jewish Socialist. As a famous American poet, Ginsberg was able to attain audiences with important political figures all over the world, and during the 60’s he took advantage of this repeatedly. He pissed off one important official after another, causing furors in India, getting kicked out of Cuba and Prague, and annoying America’s right wing to no end. He was a familiar bushy-bearded figure at protests against the Vietnam War, and his willingness to state his controversial views in public was an important factor in the development of the revolutionary state of mind that Americadeveloped during the 1960’s.
One of the most recent trends in the literature of modern America is the “Beat Movement”. This movement brought together the concepts of literature, religion, jazz and philosophy. The writers that belong to this movement created the new look at the modern life and altered the way modern people perceive the world. The Beat Generation of writers offered the world a new attitude.
The traditional poetic form was changed to start a new poetic form, American form. One of the most significant changes was to take poetry out of classrooms and bring it into less formal setting: jazz clubs, bars, and coffee shops. Poetry gained an enormous popularity and is not only spoken by sung as well.
The lyrics of many great songs have forever been changed by the writing of the Beat Generation. “Bob Dylan’s favorite poet was Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg became one of Dylan’s greatest friends. He worked on many projects with Dylan.
Generation X writers are compared to the Beat writers. Many people say that the “generation coming to age has the potential to bring a new vision to society. The Beats thumbed their noses at the corporate world just like Generation X does today. Many writers of Generation X have been influenced by the writing like Andy Clausen, Eliot Katz, Geoffrey Manough and Ed Sanders.
Beat writing has made a great impact on the writing of today’s generation. It has allowed people to be more open with themselves and the people that are reading their works. It is also allowed people to be more open minded to new ideas that these works brought to the surface for everybody to see. Where early writing was stiff, beat writing allowed for the writing to come after it to beat to a different drummer. Beat writing has expanded the world of literature, poetry and music to a higher level for people to enjoy.