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How Did Poetry Survive?The Making of Modern American Verse$
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John Timberman Newcomb

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036798

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036798.001.0001

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Footprints of the Twentieth Century

Footprints of the Twentieth Century

American Skyscrapers, Modern Poems

Chapter:
(p.180) Chapter 7 Footprints of the Twentieth Century
Source:
How Did Poetry Survive?
Author(s):

John Timberman Newcomb

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252036798.003.0008

This chapter examines how modern American poetry dealt with skyscrapers as a theme during the 1910s. The most potent icons of modernity in the early twentieth-century city were great buildings, structures of unprecedented scale and grandeur that punctuated the skyline and symbolized the metropolitan ethos. Carrying a wide range of symbolic meanings, skyscrapers and other great buildings, such as Manhattan's Metropolitan Life Insurance Building, drew strong interest from anyone seeking to represent urban modernity, from painters and sculptors to photographers, commercial artists, and the many Americans who began writing city poems in the early 1910s, including Sara Teasdale, Harriet Monroe, and Carl Sandburg. This chapter discusses the American poet's fascination with the skyscraper, which commands attention not only for its enormous degree of visual prominence but also for its tremendous, if profoundly paradoxical, signifying power.

Keywords:   skyscrapers, American poetry, urban modernity, buildings, Manhattan, Metropolitan Life Insurance Building, city poems, Sara Teasdale, Harriet Monroe, Carl Sandburg

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