The Profession of Poetry and Other Lectures

The Profession of Poetry and Other Lectures

The Profession of Poetry and Other Lectures

The Profession of Poetry and Other Lectures

Excerpt

The greater part of this book consists of lectures delivered during my five years' tenure of the Chair of Poetry in Oxford, 1923-8. Not all the lectures, however, were professorial. That upon Massinger was made for a private and almost domestic occasion, the nature of which appears sufficiently from the lecture itself. How to Know a Good Book from a Bad preserves a discourse to a summer-vacation audience of elementary teachers. Its aim was of the humblest; but it was in demand several summers running, and it seems more decent to print it than to grow old declaiming it. The lecture Milton and Oxford was written for the same audience. It contains nothing that will be new either to students of Milton or to the scholars of the Oxford country-side; but enough, perhaps, that is not too old to interest a less sophisticated public.

To the lectures I have appended an 'Appreciation' of an Oxford man who was the principal literary figure of my time. It is not a studied portraiture. It was written within a few days of the death of the person whom it commemorates, with the printer, almost literally, waiting at my door. At the time, it gave pleasure where I had hoped that it would; and I think that it has, perhaps, more truth than a more laboured composition would have hit. I have left it just as it was, though one or two of its sentences need straightening, and there are phrases which I could easily improve.

In one of my lectures I have quoted an eminent French critic, who speaks of the Oxford Chair of Poetry as 'one of the glories of England'. He had read the lectures of Matthew Arnold, and he had heard those given by . . .

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