Lascelles Abercrombie : Contribution to Poetry

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      Lascelles Abercrombie (1881-1938) was born in Cheshire and educated at Malvern and Manchester University, where he studied science. After experience as a journalist in Liverpool he became a lecturer in poetry at the University of that city (1922-1929) before going as Professor of English Literature to Bedford College, London (1929).

Abercrombie was one of the original contributors to Georgian Poetry, and, though his work reflected at various times his interest in nearly all the major writers from Tennyson to Bridges, his greatest enthusiasm was for the blend of the emotional and intellectual which he found in the poets of the metaphysical school.
Lascelles Abercrombie

      Abercrombie was one of the original contributors to Georgian Poetry, and, though his work reflected at various times his interest in nearly all the major writers from Tennyson to Bridges, his greatest enthusiasm was for the blend of the emotional and intellectual which he found in the poets of the metaphysical school. He searched many out of the way fields for subjects suitable for treatment in the metaphysical manner, and, as a result, his studies of spiritual conflict are often unconvincing.

      But Abercrombie was a considerable metrical artist with a fine rhythmic sense, and he frequently surprises the reader with a striking image and the splendour and vigour of his writing. He is most at home in a compressed and somewhat angular blank verse, and has a particular fondness for the dramatic monologue. He had not the qualities to make him either truly great or widely popular, and it is, perhaps, significant that we find him devoting most of the last twenty years of his lite mainly to literary criticism.

      His main publications were: Interludes and Poems (1908); Emblems of Love Designed in Several Discourses (1912); Thomas Hardy (1912); An Essay Towards a Theory of Art (1922); The Idea of Great Poetry (1925); Romanticism (1926); Collected Poems (1930); Poetry: Its Music and its Meaning (1932). Abercrombie was also a considerable experimenter in poetic drama during the 1920's. Recognizing the need for a new medium if poetic drama were to be revived, he attempted to adapt the rhythms of blank verse to modern needs. But, though they contain fine poetry, his plays lack the dramatic interest which springs from action and character-study. They include Deborah (1913), The Adder (1913), The End of the World (1914), The Staircase (1922), The Deserter (1922), Phoenix (1923), and The Sale of St Thomas (first part 1911, completed 1930).

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