Poetry before and after World War II experimental Poetry


“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelat



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“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

  • “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.” (Romans 6:9 )

    Philip Larkin (1922-1985)

    • Born in Coventry, educated at the U of Oxford

    • Librarian for many years at the U of Hull

    • Poems of his first volume, The North Ship (1945) show Yeats’s strong influence

    • After discovering Hardy’s Collected Poems, he found his own voice.

    • Like Hardy and Auden, he wrote novels (Jill (1946) and Girl in Winter (1947)

    • Direct speech in poems may derive from his technique of writing novels

    • Dominant figure of the Movement” – a group of poets including Kingsley Amis, Philip Larkin, Donald Davie, D.J. Enright, John Wain, Elizabeth Jennings, Thom Gunn, John Holloway and Robert Conquest:

    • Their work appeared in the anthology New Lines in 1956

    • Reaction to what they believed to be a trend in English poetry from Romanticism to the Victorian Age to Modernism to Dylan Thomas

    • They saw modernism as the continuation of romanticism (despite Eliot)

    • They deprived the poet from awareness of his own importance and authority

    • Their work is free ”from both mystical and logical compulsions and – like modern philosophy – is empirical.” (Robert Conquest)

    • Larkin’s world revolves around the welfare-state of post-Imperial Britain

    • Hardyesque pessimism: loneliness, age and death, sexuality.

    • Collections of his poems: The North Ship (1945), The Less Deceived (1955), The Whitsun Weddings (1964), High Windows (1974), altogether hardly over 100 poems



    • “Church Going” (1955) (compare with Hardy’s ”The Impercipient” (1898))

    • “High Windows”(1974) Larkin reads poem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcLNHNyzVcU

    • “This Be The Verse” (1971) Larkin reads poem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1rjRYSfCJvM

    • Title from Robert Louis Stevenson's Requiem

    • “for I the Lord, thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me” (Exodus 20:5)







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