An Editor, in a moment of over-confidence, has invited me to talk about this subject.
Imagine all other subjects he might have suggested: The Development of the Seduction Scene in Watts-Dunton; Charles Morgan, my favourite character in fiction; Mr T. S. Eliot and the Dollar Crisis; The Influence of Laurel and Hardy and Laurel on Hardy. As Fowler, of English Usage puts it: 'What words could not one use were those subjects but to be dealt with and referred to.' But, like a contrary cobbler, I must stick to my first.
Let me, at once, make it clear that I am not considering, in the supposedly informative jottings, Poetry as an Art or Craft, as the rhythmic verbal expression of a spiritual necessity or urge, but solely as the means to a social end; that end being the achievement of a status in society solid enough to warrant the poet discarding and expunging those affectations, so essential in the early stages, of speech, dress, and behaviour; an income large enough to satisfy his physical demands, unless he has already fallen victim to the Poet's Evil, or Great Wen; and a permanent security from the fear of having to write any more. I do not intend to ask, let alone to answer, the question: 'Is Poetry a Good Thing?' but only: 'Can Poetry be made Good Business?'
I shall, to begin with, introduce to you, with such comments as may or may not be necessary, a few of the main types of poets who have made the social and financial grade.
First, though not in order of importance, is the poet who has emerged docketed 'lyrical,' from the Civil Service.