AD's English Literature : Salient Features of Georgian Poetry and Inter-war Poetry

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Salient Features of Georgian Poetry and Inter-war Poetry

A Few Words: So many poets are writing today and such is the tremendous poetic output that it is impossible to give individual attention to them. Hence it is usual to divide modern poetry into two halves- (a) Georgian poetry i.e. poetry of the early decades, and (b) poetry of the interwar years i.e. poetry of middle decades. There is much overlapping, for the poetry that began writing much earlier continues to write though the interwar years. In literature there can be no water tight compartments and such divisions are merely for the convenience of study.


Georgian Poetry: Georgian poetry is the poetry of the early decades of 20th century when king George ruled England. It is an easily simple poetry, largely in the romantic vein, having certain marked characters like of its own. Says A.S. Collins, “The Georgians had, of course, Appositive aim, it was too treat natural thing in a clear, natural and beautiful way, neither too modern not too much like Tennyson. In their treatment of nature and social life they discarded the use of aspheric diction such as ‘theca’ and ‘thou’ and eschewed snack poetical constructions as ‘winter’ drear and ‘host on armed host’. They dropped all gorgeous and grandiloquent expressions in thought and expression. In reaction to Victorian didacticism their verse avoided “all formally religious, philosophic or in proving themes”, and in reaction to the decadent or Aesthetics of the nineties, they avoided all subjects that smacked of sadness, weakness and cafĂ©-table.”


The Georgian poets are neither impressionistic nor pantheistic but “as simple as a child’s reading book”. Their themes are “nature, love, leisure, old age, childhood, animals, sleep, bulls and other domestic or wild animals. It is poetry for the many and not for the scholarly few alone. It can be enjoyed even by the learned. Georgian poetry has been subjected to severe criticism by critics like T.S. Eliot. It has been said that the Georgian poetry is meant for  nice people and that they were too inclined to indulge in mutual praise and that it is a poetry lacking in depth and originality, and so unfit for the thoughtful  readers in the modern complex age. John Masefield, Walter De La Mare, W.H. Dories Drinkwater etc are some of the leading poets of the Georgian era.


Poetry between the two World Wars: The years between the two world wars (1918-1940) are rich in poetic activity. As in the pre- war period, so also now, tradition and Innovation exist side by side.  The imaginist, symbolists and surrealists continue to produce work of merit while the traditionalists continue largely in the Victorian and Georgian traditions. There are also poets who combine tradition with innovation, and even the most daring innovators are not entirely free from traditional influences. In the words of S.C. Chew, poetry during the period “became obscure, experimental, irregular antagonistic to did act language of small potteries, with much dependence upon complex, unstable, and fleeting as sometimes to become incomer sensible to the writers the moles.” Difficulty even obscurity, characterizes the poetry of the period, it is poetry for the learned few and not for the many, the average reader. It is a question whether poetry became difficult because the public had abandoned it or whether the public abandoned it because it had become difficult. It is full that new urges and the new aspirations need a new mode and technique of expression, and hence there is much experimentation with verse meter and symbolism.


The poetry of this time also refutes the pessimism, frustration and disillusionment of the nitro-was year, and there are few poets who do not shoe an awareness of the misery and sintering caused by the war, and the problems it had lift behind in its wake.


Ref: 1. History of English Literature- Albert
         2. Poets of the 1939-1945 War- R. N. Currey

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