Art is a form of expression that dives deep beyond the surface of a painting. It’s been use since the earliest of times as an expression outlet for humans. Neoclassical, Romantic, and Modern art styles are all very different yet similar in some ways. To analyze these art styles we must first understand the meaning behind them and their importance to their respective time period. I will be analyzing three poems, one from each art style.
The Neoclassical style focuses on “form, simplicity, proportion, and restrained emotion” (Derouen). Much different from the last style, romanticism zones in on “strong emotion, imagination, freedom from classical ‘correctness’ in art forms, and rebellion against social conventions” (Derouen). Lastly, the Modernist art style covers a wider scale of art because the “artistic response to these cultural features is varied, with artists and writers developing and following a variety of directions, each with its own priorities and areas of emphasis” (Derouen). All three art styles, Neoclassical, Romantic, and Modernist, all have special elements and depth to them that are important to analyze and understand.
The Neoclassical art style is demonstrated in Andrew Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress. The poem starts with an unidentified man who is lustfully speaking to an equally unidentified woman which he desires. He tells her he would admire every part of her, if only he had the time. The man tries to persuade to woman to go to bed with him because they don’t have much time together and she shouldn’t die with her virginity. The poem shows a satire element of the Neoclassical style when the mysterious man says, “That long preserved virginity, and your quaint honor turn to dust, and into ashes all my lust” (Marvell).
Here the man shows sense of wit and irony while criticizing the moral standard of keeping one’s virginity until marriage. He tries to persuade the girl that losing her virginity to him is important before she dies and becomes lonely and ugly. Another example of Neoclassicism is the objective viewpoint the poet uses. He keeps the whole poem very vague besides the actual dialogue from the man to the woman, The poet does not describe the features of either person, where they are at, why they have limited time together, or where the girl is going. In Neoclassical style poems, it is the “artist’s duty to approach his or her work in a controlled, uninvolved manner” (Derouen).
The man in the poem speaks of limited time and how he wishes he had more of it. He says, “Had we but world enough, and time, this coyness, Lady, were no crime,” and, “Thus though we cannot make our sun stand still, yet we will make him run” (Marvell). In the first quote, the man expresses that loving the girl wouldn’t be a crime if they had more time, and in the second quote, he proceeds to say that they could control their time, instead of being a slave to it, while they were mating. These quotes relate because neoclassical poets “assumed that human nature was constant–essentially the same regardless of time and place” (Introduction to Neoclassicism). In other words, the man is saying that life is always the same cycle, but they could make time their own if they seized the moment.
A completely different style of work is Edgar Allan Poe’s Annabel Lee. In this romantic style poem, a man is reminiscing on his past love with Annabel Lee. He speaks of her loveliness and how immense their love was that “neither the angels in heaven above, nor the demons down under the sea, can ever dissever my soul from the soul of the beautiful Annabel Lee
“ (Poe). This dramatic emotion is a great example of the romantic style of art used by many of the romantic artists of the time. Romantic art focused deeply on feeling and emotion in an exotic setting. In this poem, the man speaks of their love being so passionate that he sleeps beside his dead love’s grave every night, years after she had past. He says, “But we loved with a love that was more than love–I and my Annabel Lee; With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven coveted her and me” (Poe). Here, the man shows visionary when he claims that even the angels up in heaven were looking down and yearned for love like they had. The poet is dramatic with his visuals and emotions. The goal of the romantic style of art was revolution, with artists who “set out to transform not only the theory and practice of poetry (and all art), but the very way we perceive the world” (introduction to blah) The artists wanted the world to be seen as more than what it is, as if through rose-colored glasses.
In the last poem, E. E. Cummings exhibits the modern style of art in anyone lived in a pretty how town. This poem is more complex than the other two, because it, figuratively, almost has a language of its own. The poet used nouns, adverbs, adjectives, and metaphors to represent other words and meanings. For example, when the poem says, “someone’s married their everyones,” it is meaning that every person married their person that they chose to be with (Cummings). This is an example of ‘free verse’ or a relaxed format of art and writing popular in modern art.
The poem speaks of people having a loss of identity in the world, while the weather is the only same, consistent thing. The poet states, “one day anyone died I guess (and no one stooped to kiss his face),” and means that the world is just full of people who live life without truly caring about others or getting to know them if it doesn’t benefit them (Cummings). This example of irony is commonly used in modern art as well and makes the reader really rethink life, which is a big goal of this style of art. It is so prominent that “almost anyone who looks at the evolution of western culture must note a distinct change in thought, behavior, and cultural production beginning sometime in the late 19th century..” (Modernism). The poem is very different than the later poems used in this essay and has a distinct change in format and thought.
All three poems each have their own conflicts and are each different in their own way. The Neoclassical poem has the conflict of two lovers not having enough time, while the romantic poem has the problem of a man’s love being dead. These poems are similar in the way that they are both dealing with love and loss, but each poem has their own approach and meaning on the topic and idea of love. The modern style poem speaks more on the lack of love and compassion people have towards others. This poem has ironic element similar to the romantic style poem, but contrasts both other poems with its complexity and “multiple associations of words” (Derouen)