The Twentieth Century British Poetry.
C h a r a c t e r i s t i c s
- poetry rev.: 1911 (the 1st y. of the Georgian poets) – 1922 (the y. of the publ. of The Waste Land)
< the Fr. impressionist, post-impressionist, and cubist painters > a radical re-examination of the nature of reality
< the publ. of the poetry of G. M. Hopkins by Robert Bridges (1918) > experimentation in language and rhythms: the poets of the 1930s, incl. W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender, Cecil Day-Lewis, & oth. infl. by G. M. Hopkins as well as by T. S. Eliot
=> W. B. Yeats’s early spare ironic language of the aesthetes > the mature symbolic and metaphysical poetry => his work itself a history of E poetry btw 1890 – 1939
I m a g i s m
< infl. by the philos./poet Thomas Ernest Hulme’s insistence on hard, clear, and precise images
> encouraged by the Am. poet Ezra Pound, then living in London
- against romantic fuzziness and emotionalism in poetry, against the using of all words not contrib. ‘to the presentation’ x for a freer metrical movement
- successful with short descriptive lyrics x but: no technique for longer and more complex poems
M e t a p h y s i c a l P o e t r y
< infl. by the new ed. of the 17th c. metaphysical poetry by J. Donne (1912)
< the Fr. symbolist poetry appreciated now for its imagistic precision and complexity x rather than for its dreamy suggestiveness as in the 1890s
- poetry of a higher degree of intellectual complexity
- use of the highly formal + the colloquial, even the slangy
- use of irony, wit, and puns to achieve the union of thought and passion characteristic of the metaphysical poetry (for T. S. Eliot)
+ T. S. Eliot’s new king of irony achieved by shifting suddenly from the formal to the colloquial
P o e t r y S i n c e t h e W W I
- 1930s, ‘a neutral tone’ (Donald Davie): W. H. Auden & oth.
- 1940s, the New Apocalypse < infl. by the violence of expression of the Fr. surrealist poets and painters seeking to express the operation of the subconscious mind: incl. Dylan Thomas, David Gascoyne, and the painters/poets Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso
- 1950s, The Movement = for a neutral tone, purity of diction, and fidelity to experience x against the verbal excesses of the modernism: incl. D. Davie, Thom Gunn, and Philip Larkin (the noisiest rejecter of the imported modernism of E. Pound and T. S. Eliot in favour of the native tradition repres. by Hardy)
- The Martian School (< Craig Raine’s poem “A Martian Sends a Postcard Home”) < inspired by the painters seeking to see the world with the freshness of a child or a visitor from Mars
- 1990s, the New Generation Poets = lack any unifying programme
- ‘performance poetry’ = an informal and loosely structured poetry written for the stage
Abrams, Meyer Howard, ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1993.
Barnard, Robert. Stručné dějiny anglické literatury. Praha: Brána, 1997.
Sanders, Andrew. The Short Oxford History of English Literature. New York: Clarendon Press, 1994.