What impact of the First World War do you find on the early poetry of the Twentieth Century?Answer in detail.

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Like any castastrophic event that affects many parts of the world, World War I was bound to be a subject of deep emotion for writers and poets. Several writers whose verse were affected included Joyce Kilmer, Ezra Pound and E. E. Cummings. Kilmer gave his life while serving with what was originally a New York National Guard unit. Although most of his poetry was written before his enlistment, he wrote several poems during his time of service (particularly "Rouge Bouquet"). Cummings, like writer Ernest Hemingway, served as an ambulance driver during the war. Cummings, however, was soon arrested and imprisoned for espionage; his anti-war sentiments soon became well known. His poem, "my sweet old etcetera" (one of my favorites) is based on his war experiences. Pound was also deeply affected by the war, and his experiences "shattered Pound's belief in modern western civilization."

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the First World War held a profound impact on the thinking of modernism that is present in much of the poetry of the time.  There is a sense of hopelessness and forlornness evident, where the faith in the traditional structures that defined identity has been dissipated and ruptured forever.  In my mind, no better is this shown than in Yeats' "Second Coming."  There is a sense of complete disarray throughout the poem, emerging from the First World War.  In this setting, "the center cannot hold" and "things fall apart."  In a war where individuals were at the behest of their government, "the falcon cannot heat the falconer" in attempting to explain the brutality and death that resulted in a war where little, if anything, was accomplished except for the certainty of another conflict.