Twentieth Century British and Irish Poetry: Hardy to Mahon

Twentieth Century British and Irish Poetry: Hardy to Mahon

Twentieth Century British and Irish Poetry: Hardy to Mahon

Twentieth Century British and Irish Poetry: Hardy to Mahon

Synopsis

Featuring contributions from some of the major critics of contemporary poetry, Twentieth-Century British and Irish Poetry offers an accessible, imaginative, and highly stimulating body of critical work on the evolution of British and Irish poetry in the twentieth-century
  • Covers all the poets most commonly studied at university level courses
  • Features criticisms of British and Irish poetry as seen from a wide variety of perspectives, movements, and historical contexts
  • Explores current debates about contemporary poetry, relating them to the volume's larger themes
  • Edited by a widely respected poetry critic and award-winning poet

Excerpt

This volume seeks to provide a critical guide to thinking about and responding to a selection of British and Irish poets from Thomas Hardy to Derek Mahon, covering a period that runs, roughly, from 1900 to 1980. It does so through eight chapters that offer groupings of poets in relation to major aspects of their practice, though it does not seek to minimize differences that may exist between poets included in the same chapter: Eliot and Yeats, for example, or both of these poets and Lawrence in Chapter 2. Indeed, tensions operative within chapters are designed to challenge smooth and unified versions of poetic periodization.

Chapter 1 looks at the work of poets whom we may see as modern, but not modernist: namely, Thomas Hardy, Edward Thomas and Wilfred Owen. The revolt against traditional form which is a feature of modernist deconstructions of the past is not so evident here as are subtle adaptations of such form. Chapter 2 explores the work of three poets who can be regarded as modernists: W. B. Yeats, T. S. Eliot and D. H. Lawrence. All show a concern with apocalyptic modes of thought which is one central trait of modernist poetry. Chapter 3 examines the work of three poets of the 1930s, W. H. Auden, Louis MacNeice and Stephen Spender, all of whom seek to bring poetry into sharp contact with social realities, while asserting the relative autonomy of the poetic work. Chapter 4 addresses the work of two poets of the 1940s – Keith Douglas and Dylan Thomas – in an attempt to bring out the achievement of a still neglected decade of twentieth-century British poetry, an achievement that has much to do with the reclamation of rhetoric in Thomas and the discovery of a quasi- or protoexistentialist realism in Douglas. Chapter 5 scrutinizes the work of Larkin and . . .

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