William Carlos and W.H Auden are two prolific poets whose literary works can be used to bring out the outstanding differences between American and British poetry as revealed through their personal artistic complexity. William Carlos was born and grew up in America (Williams 2004).
He was known for imagism and modernism insisting that poetry should be based on day to day circumstances that touch on the common people. He advocated for the adoption of modern poetic technics. W.H Auden, on the other hand, was born in England and spent part of his life in America. On the contrary, he stood for local poetic technics insisting on the need to uphold the traditional British styles of poetry (Bloomfield & Mendelson 2003).
In comparing the two poems, Landscape with the fall of Icarus and Musee des Beaux-Arts, the two poetry writing styles stand out. William Carlos representing American poetry employs a style called stepped triadic line. This involves a long continuous line divided into three segments that make up a stanza in a poem.
On the other hand, W.H Auden representing British poetry uses a style known as free verse. This style more or less resembles a paragraph in an essay. It involves the use of long irregular sentences within the poetic structure. The writer is limited to neither sentence length nor the number of sentences in a verse and therefore they have the freedom to have as many sentences as one can in order to relay the message (Baym 2007).
There is a difference in general poem structure between American and British poetry. American poetry assumes the stanza format, as is the case with Landscape with the fall of Icarus where the poem is written in stanzas where sentences are arranged to form stanzas in the poem.
Each stanza may be thematically independent or depend on other stanzas of the poem. British poetry employs a verse structure as evident in Musee des Beaux-Arts. In this structure, sentences are written in prose to form verses whose lengths are determined by the poet. Thus, while a poem in American poetry comprises of stanzas, a poem in British poetry is made up of verses (DeMaria 2001).
Language complexity is another difference between the two forms of poetry. The poem by William Carlos is written in a simple diction that can be read and understood with ease. It also misses poetic devices of rhythm from a poetic point of view but is evident in present-day conversation.
On the contrary, Auden uses complex sentences in order to attain musicality and rhythm in the poem. For instance “dogs go on with their doggy life”, this needs interpretation to reveal the intended meaning. Hence, American poems can be easily analyzed while analysis of British poetry is slightly harder due to the complexity of the language used (Longenbach 2007).
Themes in American poetry as presented by William Carlos are usually in real life situations touching on people and nature. In his poem, William talks of the activities that took place in that spring. He talks of a farmer in the fields and the hot sun which are purely human activities and nature.
Themes in British poetry are real but majorly focus on morals. Although Auden’s poem is based on Breughel’s era which is mythical, the farmer might be blamed for moral negligence since he could have noticed Icarus drowning. The first point of the poem Musee des Beaux Arts also talks of suffering martyrdom which is a real-life situation. Thus, the major differences in the two forms of poetry can be said to be writing styles, poem structure and finally thematic concerns of the poems.
Baym, Nina. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 2007. Print.
Bloomfield, Charles & Mendelson Edward. W. H. Auden a Bibliography, 1924–1969.
Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 2003. Print.
DeMaria, Robert. British Literature 1640–1789: An Anthology, New York, NY: Blackwell Publishing, 2001. Print.
Longenbach, James. Modern Poetry after Modernism. London, UK: Oxford University Press, 2007. Print.
Williams, Carlos William. Pictures from Brueghel and other poems: collected poems 1950-1962. New York, NY: New Directions, 2004. Print.