I HAVE endeavored in the following pages to present certain aspects of modern English poetry and to discuss them in such a way as to throw some new light on poetic activity in the first forty years of the present century. This work is intended not as a complete history of English poetry during the period but rather as a series of what I hope are suggestive studies. I am well aware that I have omitted to mention many poets of ability: I have written only about those whom I felt able to discuss with some originality, and where I had nothing that I thought new or significant to say I have said nothing.
I claim no finality for my views. It seems to me important--and more important than ever these days-- that a level of intelligent discourse about literature should be maintained. There is no single way to an understanding of the complex phenomena of culture; but, if those who are interested talk to each other reasonably and with intelligence, we shall gradually learn more about these important matters. I should like to think of my work as a modest contribution to a symposium.
Acknowledgment is due to Poetry: A Magazine of Verse for permission to reprint parts of an essay on W. H. Auden which first appeared there.