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Feb 28, 2011

Age of Transcendentalism

Georgian Poets (before and after World War I)

The Georgian poets form a third distinct group. The turn “Georgian” was coined by Edward Marsh who, between 1912 and 1922 edited five anthologies of contemporary verse entitled Georgian Poetry. Today the term “Georgian” may refer to the poets of the decade in general or to a particular group among them. Georgian poetry was portrayed as being intellectually naïve, and weekly escapist. It was also considered to be technically slack and emotionally uninspired.

While these weaknesses are certainly present in some poets, it must not be forgotten that Wilfred Own and Edward Thomas must be reckoned among the Georgians not to mention Robert Frost, who though an American, represents the modern at its finest. The term indicates English period just before, during and immediately after the First World War By that token, Rupert Brooke, W.H. Davies, Ralph Hodgson, Edward Thomas, Edmund Blunden, John Masefield, Walter Da La Mare as also the was poets—Siegfried Sassoon, Isaac Rosenberg and Wilfred Owen may be considered Georgians.

The poetry was now in the sense that the new poets certainly repudiated Victorianism. They distinguished from the experiments of the nineties. Unlike the Aesthetes or Symbolists, they did not borrow fro Continental Movements. Nor did they put out manifestos of their creed as did some other like Ezra Pound. Instead they reverted to their native roots.

The most characteristic feature of Georgian poetry is its habbit of expressing itself through images of natural England. Georgian nature poetry bestows loving attention on the English countryside and impresses by its keenly observed documentation of details of plant and animal life. The poem of Brooke’s memories of “The Old Vicarage” and the poems of Davies on animals and flowers. Hodgson is rather more inclined to artifice but he, too, conveys a tender sympathy with all God’s creatures.

The attractive term in which nature is printed makes his kind of poetry also vulnerable to charges of escapism. The Georgian response to nature as beautiful and consoling was derivate. Frost alone rises above this complacency because he exploits traditional imagery in unusual ways, deliberately evoking Romantic attitudes only to deny them.

In the portrayal of human life too, Georgian poetry tended to ignore certain areas of human activity. Its poetic realism was confined to an anti-intellectual attitude. In the poems of Masefield, there is life of Romantic vagabondage. The style of Georgian poetry is traditional and popular, the tome cautiously colloquial as in the casual, chatty poems of Brooke like “Dining Room Tea” and “the old Vicarage, Grantchester.” It eschews the obscurity, dissonance and shock effects of High Modernist poetry. The Georgian world was a little “Goshan” unshaken by the tempestuous changes wrought by the works of Marx, Freud and Kierkegaard on the cultural sense. If it tended to ignore the turbulent changes effected by the war and other politically disruptive forces, it was at least capable of striking a civilized balance through verse that was kindly and compassionate.

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