In the year following World War I, a great deal of darker themes became apparent in various poems published in the magazine Coterie. 1920 brough about a new freedom to discuss more sordid topics, as the world had just been affected by a great war. There are many poems that depict images of loss and death quite literally from the battleground, as well as figuratively, (as in lost love, and such); however, several of these poems in particular have something beyond that in common, and that is that they allude to references of music in the poetry.
In the April, 1920 issue, a poet named Conrad Aiken had a set of peoms published which are both reminiscent of life and ponder on death. Both exhibit a strong sense of music within their context. The first poem, "Portrait of One Dead" tells the somber story of a woman caught between life with and without her lover, who had gone for reasons that are unexplained. Her life at both stages is contrasted by a world with music and without: "This is her room: on one side there is music-/ On one side not a sound./ At one step she could move from love to silence..." The halls and the rooms of the house itself are described as "sonorous," the love letters she receives are "fragrant with music," which ignites a sense of reverberance in the reader; one can almost feel the vibrations of the music. The sensation of sound is so prominent, it becomes metaphorical for the girl's life. In the poem she dies, which is best described in the lines, "You do not know how long she clung to the music,/ You did not hear her sing," as if the playing of the music runs parallel to her physical life. The poem that follows directly after, "Coffins", again describes life as music: "We are like music, each voice of it pursuing/ A golden separate dream, remote, persistent,/ Climbing to fire, receeding to hoarse despair." The poem depicts a winter night in a town where death looms, inevitable, to take its inhabitants. Aiken is adament about using music as a metaphor for life. When death is in the eyes of someone, it is as thought the music runs out: "They are blown away like windflung chords of music;/ They drift away; the sudden music has died." It puts music in the light of being merely a span of time; It glissandos, crescendos, carries through the wind and is gone, fleeting, like life. He goes so far as to personify music as "sinister" and "troubled."
These themes are apparent again in the same issue and in later months. Further into the issue, a poem by C. B. Kitchin called "Requiem- July 17th, 1919" alludes to music in its very title. A requiem being a prominent musical piece that is sung as a mass at a funeral or in time of death, the work depicts a gruesome scene of death that disturbs the scenario of a peaceful, quiet night. In the September, 1920 issue, a poem called "An Unreturning Thing," by Gerald Gould describes the death of a child like "the hush before the orchestra begins." These poets not only describe music as an essential factor of life, but it is to them, as though, it is life in itself.