Max Eastman, a sonnet from his book Kind of Love (1931)

[Note: This poem was praised in a review of Eastman's book by William Rose Benet (Saturday Review of Literature, April 11, 1931, p. 734) as "not only a distinguished poetic utterance but probingly intelligent criticism as well." Max Eastman was for many years affiliated with the communist movement in the U.S. He later became a leftist anti-Stalinist, and still later a conservative anticommunist. His essay/chapter, "The Cult of Unintelligibility," was among the most forceful attacks on modernism--especially on the "nonsense" of Gertrude Stein, whose writing Eastman likened to the ramblings of the clinically insane.]

       Modernist Poetry

Meaning, nature, has shed this glistening skin--
Shrill shell of colors crying in the light
for root or foot or body, boldly bright
Yet silvery diaphanous and thin,
The stark equation, the quick theorem,
The mind's electric, naked of shape or place,
these are the faith, the future, of our race;
No dye will hold, no tune inhere in them.

Is then the thinking singer ceased and gone?
Is all fair color lost from throughtfulness?
Shall not some Goethe of a greater dawn
Pick up this early bright cast coat of song
And wear it strongly though his thought is strong,
Confusing not the doing with the dress?