Compare poetry from the Romantic era to modern poetry.

Romantic poetry, as described in Wordsworth and Coleridge's 1799 Lyrical Ballads, set the stage for modern poetry in its emphasis on short, lyrical poems written in accessible language. However, the modern era has gone beyond the Romantic desire to create fresh, new poems into breaking all boundaries of form and content.

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This is a complex question, but to boil it down, modern poetry is heavily influenced by Romantic poetry, but at the same time has taken many of the precepts of Romanticism in new and experimental directions, breaking molds in ways Romantics never imagined.

Wordsworth and Coleridge's 1799 Lyrical Ballads flung...

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This is a complex question, but to boil it down, modern poetry is heavily influenced by Romantic poetry, but at the same time has taken many of the precepts of Romanticism in new and experimental directions, breaking molds in ways Romantics never imagined.

Wordsworth and Coleridge's 1799 Lyrical Ballads flung down a gauntlet and revolutionized poetry. The preface to this work insisted that poetry should be written in simple, easy-to-understand language and exalt the common person. The preface put an emphasis on emotion, saying poetry should reflect emotion recalled in tranquility. Most of the poems (with a few notable exceptions, such as The Rime of the Ancient Mariner) are very short. Many are focused on nature.

All of this has become so commonplace that we can easily lose sight of how new these concepts were in 1799. Today, they seem to describe what poetry is—modern writers like Mary Oliver write in continuation of this tradition. As Lyrical Ballads advised, we expect our poems to be short, accessible, and to spark an emotional response.

However, modern poetry has also continued to go off in different directions. It has taken the revolution the Romantics started in breaking away from the Neoclassical forms of the ancient Greeks and Romans and become ever more experimental. A hallmark of modern poetry is the willingness to break all boundaries—to throw out all rhyme schemes, for example; or like T. S. Eliot in The Wasteland, to become long and densely allusive; or like Whitman and Ginsberg, to break boundaries of decorum to write about formerly forbidden topics such as same-sex love. If the Romantics went in new directions, modern poetry goes everywhere.

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The Romantic period is usually described as running from the late eighteenth-century through the beginning of the reign of Queen Victoria. The major Romantic poets include Keats, Shelley, Byron, Coleridge, Blake, and Wordsworth. These poets were generally quite enthusiastic about nature, inspired by the French Revolution, religiously unorthodox, and, to a degree, concerned with poetry that expresses emotion and emulates natural speech, rather than following literary convention. As opposed to the Latin influences of the Augustans, several Romantic poets were very much influenced by Greek poetry. Although Romantics (with the exception of Byron) tended to reject the heroic couplet, they generally stayed within regular verse forms. Although, the "ode" tended to be somewhat flexible, with irregular line lengths.

Modernist poetry occupies the period between the end of Victoria's reign and World War II. Some of the leading modernist poets in English are W. H. Auden, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, H.D., Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore, E. E. Cummings, and William Carlos Williams. They are distinguished by technical experimentation, with many using free verse. Although Williams tended to use simple, ordinary language, many of the modernists used highly ornate or distinctive forms of diction, sometimes drawing on multiple languages. Unlike the fairly simple and direct poetry of the Romantics, much of modernist poetry is hermetic and allusive. They tended to be urban where the Romantics were rural and considered themselves an intellectual elite rather than sentimentalizing a pastoral ideal.

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First, to define terms, we will say that the Romantic Era of English poetry encompassed the years 1785 to 1830 and the "modern" era encompasses anything written after 1900. This division fails to distinguish between modernism and post-modernism, but as far as poetry goes, modernist qualities carry into the post-modern (after 1950) era. 

Romantic poetry is characterized by the use of traditional verse forms and Romantic themes. Traditional verse forms such as sonnets, ballads, and odes as well as other forms such as ottava rima and Alexandrine verse have in common that they use consistent rhythm and meter throughout the poem and have a regular rhyme scheme or follow blank verse (unrhymed iambic pentameter) forms. The topics and themes of Romantic poetry were individualism, awe of nature, importance of imagination, strong emotions, and an interest in the common man and childhood. Representative examples are Wordsworth's sonnet "The World Is Too Much with Us," Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn," Shelley's "Adonais," Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner," and Byron's "Don Juan." In addition, the lyrical ballad, introduced by Wordsworth and Coleridge, redirected poetry during the Romantic era to be more accessible to everyday readers.

In the Modern era, the most notable change is the replacement of traditional verse forms by the rhythms and language of normal speech. Imagism, a movement started by Ezra Pound, tended toward minimalism in poetry, and while not all modern poets were Imagists, many adopted the free verse format and the sparse wording of that movement. "Oread" by H.D. is an example of an Imagist poem. T. S. Eliot is representative of modern poetry in "The Wasteland" and "The Hollow Men." Not only do these poems use modernist language in using irregular rhythms, rhyme schemes, and stanzas, but they also reflect the pessimistic or uncertain outlook of the 20th century. Poetry became deliberately obscure, as with Wallace Stevens' "The Emperor of Ice Cream," and experimented with capitalization and punctuation, as with E. E. Cummings' "In Just-." Fragmented thoughts and disjointed perspectives are common in Modernist poetry as well. Poetry in this era favors questions over pat answers, as in Yeats' "Second Coming." 

The major differences in Romantic and Modernist poetry are their forms and the preferred subject matter and perspective. 

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