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Connection Between Modernist Literature Artists and Current Works of Art

Modernism in literature focused on the contemporary issues that called for self-consciousness and the desire to overturn the traditional ways of writing in poetry and fictional narratives. This was shortly after the horrors of the First World War, which saw the urge to reassess society and literature. Early modernist writers then developed new ideas and themes to uncover the supposedly rational world. Following the recent focus on literary works, modernist writers were keen on innovating literary techniques such as monologue symbolism as well as introducing multiple characters. The use of monologues in works of literature was aimed to elicit emotions and personal experiences. For this reason, modernist literature gave writers the freedom to express themselves more experimentally. The use of symbolism in works of literature helped build the connection between the reader and the text. William Butler Yeats is one of the notable modernist writers through his poem “Adam’s Curse,” which displays the society’s lack of understanding about literary works, the difficulty of creating something beautiful, and the poet’s expression of love. To bring out the connection between modernist literature and current works of art, this essay aims to explore the relationship between Yeats’ poem, “Adam’s Curse,” and a contemporary poem, “The Hill We Climb” by Amanda Gorman, through the similar use of symbolism, personal experience, and multiple characters.

The use of symbolism as a literary technique reached its peak during the modernist movement, and this is revealed through the works of Yeats in Adam’s Curse. In literature, symbolism refers to using images, symbols, and metaphors to display deeper meanings that go beyond the surface-level narrative. Yeats uses symbolism to explore the themes of consciousness, identity, and human experience. Yeats uses the “Moon” symbolically in Adam’s Curse to represent a change. Traditionally, society members observed the moon to predict a change in time. In Adams’s Curse, the moon symbolically represents the poet’s romantic feeling that have changed over time. The moon strides in to the speaker as “Worn and hollow” (Yeats, line 31). This shows that the speaker has matured from his youthful naivety and romantic hopes. Additionally, the moon explores the theme of consciousness present to the speaker. The speaker knows their unique thoughts, feelings, and the environment. Today, writers have taken into action symbolism in their works of literature to challenge readers to question their beliefs and life assumptions. Additionally, in the poem “The Hill We Climb,” contemporary writers such as Amanda Gorman use the hill to demonstrate the challenges facing America and the world today symbolically.

As stated earlier, modernist literature aims at allowing the writers to express themselves while shunning the traditional conventions. Yeats’s poem “Adam’s Cu8rse” must have been spurred by his pain of losing his lover. Yeats must have felt the same pain as Adam in the Bible after being chased from the garden of heaven. With modernist literature, writing about this experience is well-recognized and acceptable. The poem serves as a memory of one of the speaker’s best moments in the past, which the speaker wishes tib er brought back. Using poetry relieves the writer of getting back what cannot be brought back in reality.

Similarly to the loss that was experienced during the First war, modernist writers wrote poems to relieve themselves and the people from the trauma they had experienced. Additionally, the poem gives meaning to the struggles of humans while trying to dignify hard work and suffering. Like other modernist writers, the poem embraces the power of hard work to achieve more incredible things in life. “scrub kitchen pavements or break stones…in all kinds of weather” (Yeats, line 8). Today, contemporary writers often explore their personal and emotional experiences, thus delving into themes such as memory, identity, and trauma. For example, Amanda Gorman uses her experiences as a powerful call for hope, healing, resilience, and unity for America.

To present a variety of viewpoints, modernist poets chose to use multiple characters but in the first-person perspective. This helped explore the subjectivity of each character in the poem. Since modernism was an extensive change that affected several facets of expression, writers chose multiple voices to express the same. Additionally, modernist writers imagined a world with various layers, and using numerous characters would be adequate to unleash these layers. Yeats in Adam’s Curse introduces multiple characters to bring out the theme of romantic disillusionment. In a changing society, Yeats introduces three characters in the poem whose different voices show different perspectives on life and love. The speaker has become disillusioned by love. Although it is not revealed the gender, the speaker is juxtaposed to “labor” and hence is a man (Yeats, line 22). There is also the speaker’s lover who has rejected his love. The other character is a close friend to the speaker’s lover, and all these characters present the speaker’s anguish and pain brought by lack of love. Amanda Gorman uses the word “we” to show the unison and inclusivity of different persons. Today, contemporary writers strive and appreciate diversity, thus resulting in the use of multiple characters. Modern literature aims to give voice to other individuals and the freedom to freely express themselves and reflect on the current reality.

To sum up, modernist literature paved the way for self-expression and several new literary techniques. Modernist writers embraced the new world and societal changes and wrote about these changes. Yeats’s works of poetry take the structure of modernist literature because of his great poetic feature of recreating personal life, feelings, thoughts, and dreams. In doing so, Yeats uses literary devices such as symbolism. Today, contemporary writers are influenced by Yeats’s work as they use symbolism, personal experiences, and multiple characters.

Work Cited

Yeats, William, Butler. “Adam’s Curse” The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats. Poetry Foundation, 1989,


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