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Epilogue: The War’s Legacy in Verse

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Part of the Macmillan Studies in Twentieth-Century Literature book series (STCL)

Abstract

It would be all too simple to make the 1940 encounter between Sidney Keyes and Philip Larkin in the Turl, Oxford, a symbolic confrontation between two antithetical types of poetry. Keyes, who would perish in North Africa in mysterious circumstances a mere three years later, slighted his Oxford contemporary when he launched Eight Oxford Poets (1941); Larkin, who remained in England for the duration of the war, would soon discard his Yeatsian trappings, renounce myth and dream, and move towards an anti-romantic platform of accurate statement. There in the snowy Oxford street stood the war’s victim-to-be and the war’s survivor-to-be, neo-romantic and anti-romantic, the poet of the 1940s and the poet of the 1950s. Were the two men even dimly aware of the symbolic opposition they were later made to enact? In 1964, looking back at their meeting in the Turl, Larkin, though remembering Keyes’ huge Russian fur hat, recalled no dialogue of momentous proportions. In fact, he insisted that they had little, if anything, to say to each other.1

Keywords

Movement Style Early Fifty British Poetry Modern Verse Modern Poet 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Philip Larkin, The North Ship (London: Faber & Faber, 1966) p. 9.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    John Wain, ‘Ambiguous Gifts’, Penguin New Writing (40), 1950, p. 127.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Blake Morrison, The Movement (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980) p. 25.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Philip Larkin, ‘The War Poet’, The Listener (10 October 1963) pp. 561–2. For a similar compliment to Owen at the expense ofthe 1940s war poets,Google Scholar
  5. see D. J. Enright, The Poets of the 1950s, preface (Tokyo: Kenkyusha Ltd., 1955) p. 8.Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    William Butler Yeats, introduction, The Oxford Book of Modern Verse 1892–1935 (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1936) pp. xxxiv–xxxv.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    John Wain, Sprightly Running (London: Macmillan, 1962) pp. 187–8.Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    Geoffrey Grigson, Before the Romantics (London: Routledge, 1946) pp. vii–viii.Google Scholar
  9. Also see Geoffrey Grigson, ‘The Language of Poetry’, and ‘The Enjoyment of Poetry’, Essays from the Air (London: 1951) pp. 171–7. Grigson proposes Hardy as a ‘sad’ but ‘honest’ poet who might be a good model to counter neo-romanticism.Google Scholar
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    Donald Hall, quoted by Eric Homberger, The Art of the Real (London: Dent, 1977) p. 87.Google Scholar
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    Donald Davie, ‘The Spoken Word’, reprinted in The Poet in the Imaginary Museum (Manchester: Carcanet Press, 1977) p. 5.Google Scholar
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    Alan Ross, ‘English Poetry Today’, The Listener, XLIII (25 May 1950) p. 923.Google Scholar
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    G. S. Fraser, ‘The Poet and His Medium’, in John Lehmann (ed.), The Craft of Letters (London: The Cresset Press, 1956) p. 113.Google Scholar
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  18. 19.
    Philip Larkin, Jill (New York: The Woodstock Press, 1976) Introduction.Google Scholar
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    John Wain (ed.), An Anthology of Modern Poetry (London: Hutchinson, 1963; 1967 edn) p. 35.Google Scholar
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    Anthony Hartley, ‘Poets of the Fifties’, Spectator (27 August 1954) p. 260.Google Scholar
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    Howard Sergeant, ‘The Movement — an Agreed Fiction?’, in Dannie Abse (ed.), Best Poetry of the Year6 (London: Robson Books, 1979) pp. 127–8.Google Scholar
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    T. E. Hulme, ‘Romanticism and Classicism’, Speculations (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1924; 1936; 1949). See especially pp. 126–7 and 133.Google Scholar
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    Robert Conquest (ed.), New Lines (London: Macmillan, 1956) pp. xii–xiv.Google Scholar

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© Linda M. Shires 1985

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