English Poetry During World War Period

Also Read

      T. S. Eliot and then Auden and his group revolutionised English poetry and gave a new direction and dimension to it during world war period.

Among the moderns of the period after the wars the name of Dylan Marlais Thomas (1914-1953) comes up foremost.
War Poetry

      Among the moderns of the period after the wars the name of Dylan Marlais Thomas (1914-1953) comes up foremost. He was the bourgeois image of a poet-magnificently blasphemous and bardic. His wild intensity gripped the common readers and his surrealistic imagery appealed to the intellectuals. In an age when most poetry seemed austere and coldly intellectual, he could excite interest through his energy and eloquence. His preoccupation with birth, death and the life force is the major concern of his poetry. The authorised version of the Bible provides much of his phrasing, and Hopkins is the strongest influence upon Thomas poetic technique. Eighteen Poems (1934) containing some of his most successful poems belongs by the poet's own statement to his "Womb-tomb period". The poem 'The Force that through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower made Thomas famous. When like a running' Grave is a young man's dilemma between head and heart, desire and frustration. Twenty Five Poems (1936) contains verse written at much the same time and in the same spirit. Deaths and Entrances (1946) contains the most powerful poems of Thomas. They are inspired by horribly real war years and intense personal experience. A Refusal to mourn the death, by Fire, of a child in London; Poem in October; In my craft or Sullen Art; Holy Springs are some or the poems. In Country Sleep (1952) shows Dylan Thomas at his mellowest. The important poems were included in this collection. In the 'White Giant's Thigh' observed the fecundity principle overriding all. Even though sterile themselves, the bearers of the life force will by their unceasing efforts at ite carry on the great cycle.
      Dylan Marlais Thomas' poetry created a great stir in the intellectual world of England in the forties. The alleged obscurity of his poetry is due to verbal intoxication and verbal compulsion it is a personal, introvert and obsessive poetry.

      The post-war poets are represented in the anthology New Lines (1916). Philip Arthur Larkin, Roy Fuller and Donald Davie are poets of the new line or movement. The characteristic features of their poetry is a colloquial ease, allusion to the apparently trivial in everyday life, disillusioned and ironic self-security, and a calm acceptance of living as a mad affair. They write poetry out of the inadequacy and pointlessness of modem existence.

      Unlike the New Signature Poets (Auden and his group), the New Lines writers never had a Utopian vision. Eliot and Auden are their chief influences.

      Edmund Blunden and Edwin Muir followed relatively traditional patterns which have alienated them from the modernities. Blunden is the poet of the immemorial landscape. He has consistently depicted not mere bucolics but a genuine Countryman's Nature. Blunden has treated of war and Nature from Poems (1914) to A Hong Kong House (1962). He is more the poet of the immemorial landscape than the follower of any twentieth century school.

      Edwin Muir, chiefly regarded as a critic, specially for The Structure of the Novel (1928) and Essays on Literature and Society (1949) published Collected Poems (1921-1958) in 1960. His verse is reflective, not of modern tension and irony, but of 'emotion recollected in tranquility'. Archetypal dreams and mythology rather than the pains of this century occupy him.

      The 1940's witnessed a new romanticism from some British poets. Vernon Philips Watkins in his The Lady with the Unicorn (1948) seeks to interpret the visible world symbolically. He is much influenced by Blake. Irony, humour and the modern world are absent in his poetry as he sings of birth, death and the cycles of Nature. John Francis Heath-Stubbs published the four volumes of verse between 1942 and 1950. He treats generally of art and literature of the past in a learned diction alien to the modern idiom and contemporary spirit. His three subsequent volumes, specially The Blue-fly in His Head (1962) display increasing vigour approaching modern irony and colloquialism.

      Another important poet is Ted Hughes who published his first collection The Hazok in the Rain in 1957. It is interesting to compare him with his Cambridge contemporary, Thom Gunn. Both are anatomists of violence. But whereas Gunn is primarily concerned with its operation in society and in the workings of the human will, Hughes broods on violence as principle of the universe, and in particular, of the animal kingdom Gunn, as a student of Donne is capable of writing superb metaphysical poetry. Hughes presents with marvellous solidity and precision the essential nature as well as the outward appearance of birds, beasts and fishes. Hughes's poems like Pennies in April, Relic, Thrushes, Hawk Roosting are important. Thomas Gunn's The Annihilation of Nothing, deserves special mention. Other poets who are worthy of notice are Thomas Blackburm, Geoffrey Hill etc.

Previous Post Next Post