The Modern Poets
II. THE MODERN POETS
Edwin Markham, while a teacher in California, wrote and published a remarkable poem, The Man with
the Hoe, which by its rugged strength and elemental feeling achieved an immediate and enduring fame.
Interpreting the lesson embodied in Millet's famous painting, this poem expresses the newly aroused
sense of social responsibility which characterizes much of the poetry produced during the first decades
of the twentieth century. In 1899 Markham removed to New York and engaged in literary work. His first
published volume, The Man with the Hoe, and Other Poems, appeared in that same year. A second
volume, Lincoln, and Other Poems, followed in 1901. The title poem, Lincoln, the Man of the People,
ranks as one of the noblest tributes to Lincoln in verse. While none of Markham's later compositions
has equalled either of these early poems, few among his contemporaries have approached this poet in
dignity or in technical skill.
Bliss Carman was born in New Brunswick, but from 1890 until his death in 1929 he was engaged in
literary work in the United States. His first collection of nature poems, Low Tide on Grand Pré, appeared
in 1893. A Sea Mark (1895) and Ballads of Lost Haven (1897) are in the same vein. Songs from
Vagabondia (1894), followed by More Songs from Vagabondia (1896) and Last Songs from Vagabondia
(1900), were written in collaboration with his friend, Richard Hovey. Singing the joy of the open road
and the freedom of bohemian life, these songs struck a new and wholesome note in American verse.
Richard Hovey, a poet of large promise who died at thrity-four, was born in Illinois and educated at Dartmouth.
He, too, was a journalist at the time of his collaboration with Bliss Carman in the three volumes mentioned.
Besides the Songs from Vagabondia and another collection of lyric verse,Along the Trail (1898), he was
the author of a series of poetical dramas dealing with the Arthurian legend: The Quest of Merlin, The
Marriage of Guenevere, The Brith of Galahad, and Taliesin (1898-99) -- a dramatic achievement of a
The American poet of highest attainment and greatest promise at the opening of the twentieth century
was, without doubt, William Vaughn Moody. He was born in Indiana but received his education in the
East and was a graduate of Harvard. From 1895 to 1907 he was instructor and assistant professor
at the University of Chicago. Recognition of his poetical gift came with the publication in the Atlantic
Monthly (May, 1900) of An Ode Written in Time of Hesitation, which dealt with the popular feeling aroused
by the outbreak of the Spanish-American War and the annexation of the Philippines. No finer composition
in the field of serious, meditative verse had appeared since Lowell. Confirmation of the judgment regarding
the high place he seemed destined to fill in our national literature followed the appearance of his Poems,
in 1901. The humanitarian spirit finds strong expression in these compositions, of which Gloucester
Moors is an impressive example. A lyrical drama, The Masque of Judgment, had been published in
1900. The Fire-Bringer (1904) followed as a part in the trilogy designed. The Death of Eve, uncompleted,
has appeared only as a fragment. These dramas reflect the spirit of Greek tragedy, a dominating influence
in the poet's work. Moody later turned to the prose drama, producing two successful plays: The Great
Divide (1907) and The Faith Healer (1909). The Poems and Plays of William Vaughn Moody (1912)
contain his collected works in two volumes.
Percy Wallace MacKaye (born 1875) and Josephine Preston Peabody (1874-1922) have also made
notable contributions to our rather scanty store of dramatic verse. Both are also lyric poets of the established
tradition. Percy MacKaye, born at New York City, is best known as the author of The Canterbury Pilgrims
(1903), Fenris the Wolf (1905), Jeanne D'Arc (1906), Sappho and Phaon (1907), Sinbad the Sailor