Skip to main content


Reading Modernist Poetry

Michael H. Whitworth

ISBN: 978-1-444-32076-3 February 2010 Wiley-Blackwell 256 Pages


This essential guide to modernist poetry enables readers to make sense of a literary movement often regarded as difficult and intimidating.
  • Provides close examinations of key poems by T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, W. B. Yeats, and others
  • Considers key techniques employed to orient and disorient the reader, such as diction, rhythm, and allusion
  • Explores the ideological implications of subject matter and the literary forms and structures of modernist poetry
  • Places modernist poetry in relation to its Victorian and Romantic predecessors
  • Encourages readers to engage with the texts and make their own interpretations, moving away from the question of what the poem says in favour of considering the effect of the poem on its reader
Preface and Acknowledgements.

1 Introduction.

Part I Subject Matter.

2 Reflexivity.

3 Landscapes, Locations, and Texts.

4 Explorations of Consciousness.

Part II Techniques.

5 Interpreting Obscurities, Negotiating Negatives.

6 The Sound of the Poem.

7 Allusion and Quotation.

8 The Language of Modernist Poetry: Diction and Dialogue.

9 Literal and Metaphorical Language.

10 Mythology, Mythography, and Mythopoesis.

11 Who is Speaking?

Part III Form, Structure, and Evaluation.

12 Form.

13 Subjects and Objects in Modernist Lyric.

14 Temporality and Modernist Lyric.

15 The Dramatic Monologue.

16 Modernism, Epic, and the Long Poem.

17 Modernist Endings.

18 Value and Evaluation.


Further Reading.


"It is well structured, well researched, clearly written, and full of innovative insights."  (M/C Reviews, September 2010)