perhaps no one springs to mind so easily when talking about modern poets
as e e cummings (1894 - 1962)-
after all his lack of structured form, his non-use
of capital letters and creative use of punctuation:;
Well, but that doesn't explain Emily Dickinson in the mid 1800s -
So there must be more to modern poetry than it's shape. Cummings didn't do away with convention; he saw it in a different way. He was influenced by Chaucer and Shakespeare and Dante. He read Rossetti and Swinburne. He wrote sonnets and was considered "one of the greatest lyric poets of all time" (Horace Gregory in his introduction to a selection of poems from 1965). Like other poets we've talked about (Hartley, for example), Cummings expressed himself in more than one medium. He painted and drew while his wife Marion was a photographer. So, he captured in words what a swipe of a brush or a shadowy black-and-white picture revealed.
I think, too, that for poets of the early 20th century what they heard was as influential as what they saw and felt. Ragtime and jazz were in their infancy in these years before the War (the first one). The sounds and rhythms were syncopated, fragmented, based in studied musicianship, but thrown free to the wind. The world was bursting into an entirely different form and so was its art forms.
So here is one of Cummings' later poems (1958), a seemingly tame thing, yet free as the soaring bird.
in time of daffodils(who know
the goal of living is to grow)
forgetting why,remember how
in time of lilacs who proclaim
the aim of waking is to dream,
remember so(forgetting seem)
in time of roses(who amaze
our now and here with paradise)
forgetting if,remember yes
in time of all sweet things beyond
whatever mind may comprehend,
remember seek(forgetting find)
and in a mystery to be
(when time from time shall set us free)
forgetting me,remember me