GEORGIAN POETS – THE 1960-1970
Georgian poetry was the tittle of a series of anthologies that shows the work of a school of English poetry in the early reign of King George V. Body of lyrical poetry produced in Britain in the early 20th century. Desiring to make new poetry more accessible to the public, Rupert Brooke and Sir Edward Marsh produced five anthology volumes-containing works by Robert Graves, Walter de la Mare, Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967), and others-called Georgian Poetry (1912–22). “Georgian” was meant to suggest the opening of a new poetic age with the accession in 1910 of George V; however, much of the Georgians' work was conventional, and the name came to refer to backward-looking literature rooted in its time.
Georgian Poets were mainly blamed for their traditionalism (imitation of their forefathers), for being escapists (attempting to escape from urban and industrial life) and for cultivating false simplicity.
In fact, Georgian Poetry was most interesting than that: the Georgian movement was a reaction against the poetic establishment, embodied by Newbolt. The first two volumes include many poems but fail to include such poets as Owen (who thought himself Georgian). Marsh is responsible for the Georgian anthology, he made it on subjective grounds: "this volume is issued in the belief that English poetry is now once more putting on a new strength and beauty".
As a result, the Georgian Movement is quite informal and Georgian Poetry is not homogeneous. There are two phases in Georgian Poetry :
Phase 1 is the real Georgian Poetry. In 1912, Georgian Poetry was hailed as symbolizing "the new rebellion in English poetry". Poets have in common to challenge the establishment, the current trends in poetry:
By contrast, the aims of Georgian Poetry in Phase 2 was to give a subjective personal response to personal concern to return to Wordsworth and to use a straightforward and casual language (that is why they were blamed for cultivating simplicity).
The Georgian general recommendation was the giving up of complex forms so that more people could read poetry. Georgian Poetry was to be English but not aggressively imperialistic, patheistic rather than atheistic; and as simple as a child's reading book.
The Georgian poets were, by the strictest definition, those whose works appeared in a series of five anthologies named Georgian Poetry, published by Harold Monro and edited by Edward Marsh. The first volume contained poems written in 1911 and 1912. The poets included Edmund Blunden, Rupert Brooke, Robert Graves, D. H. Lawrence, Walter de la Mare and Siegfried Sassoon.
The period of publication was sandwiched between the Victorian era, with its strict classicism, and Modernism, with its strident rejection of pure aestheticism. The common features of the poems in these publications were romanticism, sentimentality and hedonism.
Later critics have attempted to revise the definition of the term as a description of poetic style, thereby including some new names or excluding some old ones.
Henry Newbolt, writing in the early 1930s, estimated that there were at least 1000 active British poets; the vast majority of these would be recognisably 'Georgian', making the pool of names close to unfathomable.
Georgian poets were blamed for being traditionalists: they rejected the accepted practices of their days. They tried to react and to follow the lead shown by Wordsworth a century earlier, who wanted to "write in the real language of man". They were not only reacting again but also trying to introduce some new keys innovations into English poetry.
Georgian poets were said to have ignored the time in which they lived (unlike Newbolt). They wanted to make the poetry reading public, aware of the unpleasant faith of English society. They introduced prostitutes and tramps in their poetry. Far from being escapist, early Georgian Poetry relied on realism (cf Brook). To make poetry relevant, they adopted a close reflection of real life, common and sordid. They attempted to describe the emotional reality
Nature was an obsession for the poets: it was used to explore other issues and as a means of communication. Georgian Poetry puts a strong emphasis on emotional response. It is an answer to the increasing complexity of dislocation of the modern world.
In general, the conservatism that prevailed in the first decade of the twentieth century resulted in patriotic and nationalistic issues often being addressed in the poetry of the period. Consequently, this poetry frequently possessed a morally didactic nature, in which an individual's personal response was largely excluded. The Georgians were born from this poetical climate. (The majority of poets that are often viewed as being part of this family acquired their status as 'Georgian' with the inclusion of their poetry into Edward Marsh's Georgian Poetry anthologies, which ran to five volumes from 1912 to 1922.) Although no set guidelines were ever laid out as to what Georgian poetry should or should not seek to achieve (unlike Pounds Imagism, for example), there was a general reaction amongst them against the didactic nature of the major Victorian poets. Moreover, they also shared a mutual dislike of the nationalistic and patriotic verse of Edwardian's such as Kipling, Newbolt and Chesterton. In both cases, the Georgian poets disliked and sought avoid the excesses in diction and rhetoric of such verse, and the subsequent relegation of the individual that occurred within it.
Consequently, the Georgians shared the desire for reintroducing the individual and depicting a personal response in their poetry. To do this, they commonly evoked the rural landscape rather than looking towards the city for inspiration because their beliefs were firmly entrenched in the traditional Romantic concept that individual subject (and his or her poetry) is inextricably linked with the natural world. Common to the 'big six' Romantic poets, they shared the belief that an improved world "could be attained not in the afterlife, but in the real, material world that they inhabited". Although not as innovative or explicit as the major romantic writes, they were, arguably, equally committed in their poetry to their forebear's ideals. Thus in line with this more personal and romantic mode of poetry, poets in the Georgian mould favoured the use of a more simplistic and subtle language rather than the didactic and aggressive one that was employed by many of their predecessors and contemporaries. Walter encapsulates their (general) poetic philosophy eloquently when he states, "they deliberately avoided the roads their fathers had built and instead chose to follow the lead set a century earlier by Wordsworth".
However, when the considering the Georgians as a movement or a poetic ideal, two important distinctions need to be made. Firstly, there were essentially two movements, with the second being different and, arguably, inferior to the first. Walter draws this distinction by referring to Georgians and Neo-Georgians. In practical terms, this distinction can be reasonably achieved with the separation of Georgian Poetry I & II from volumes III & IV. It has been suggested that the poetry in the first two volumes is, generally, of a higher quality than that which appeared in the subsequent volumes, albeit with a few notable exceptions (de la Mare for instance). From the innovative, the poetry became an imitation of the work in previous volumes in that it has been accused of employing a diluted romanticism, with any expression of a "personal and profound emotional experience" absent from their compositions.
Although this evaluation is open to question, it is nevertheless true that the reputation of the Georgians has been negatively impacted in critical circles because of its association with the Neo-Georgians. This is because these two movements are frequently placed under the umbrella term of Georgianism, with the view that the same quality of work was being produced throughout. Consequently, because the Neo-Georgians are often viewed - rightly or wrongly - as largely fulfilling "the negative expectations associated with the Georgian movement, […] they have regrettably come to represent Georgianism for most critics".Clearly, a result of regarding the Georgians and the Neo-Georgians together is that the movement as a whole is frequently discredited, with poets such as de la Mare, whose poetry was included in all five volumes, suffering.
The real gifts of Brooke, Davies, de la Mare, Blunden, and Hodgson should not be overlooked, but, taken as a whole, much of the Georgians' work was lifeless. It took inspiration from the countryside and nature, and in the hands of less gifted poets, the resulting poetry was diluted and middlebrow conventional verse of late Romantic character. "Georgian" came to be a pejorative term, used in a sense not intended by its progenitors: rooted in its period and looking backward rather than forward.5)