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269 SWEET CEORGIAN BROWN Rev-art on Robert H. Ross, THE GEORGiAM REVOLT: RISE AND FALL OF A POETIC IDEAL I9IO-I922. Carbondale: Southern Illinois U P, I965. $6„50. By Nei1 F, Brennan (Villanova Univers; y) To bring together much of the data currently available on the Georgian Poets as a group is a cask worth commendation in itself, In addition Professor Ross has interviewed survivors, culled the Edward Marsh Lettei' Collection (much of it still unpublished), and produced o book which should be on the shelf of any school library. Bibliography and index make, it a useful tool for the student of English Literature in Transition as well. Dialectical Iy Professor Ross's attempt is to redress the present low critical estimate of the Georgian Poets without pushing the pendulum into a further oscillation , and properly he recognizes the word "C^oi'gian" as the crux that it is. V/hile George V's reign extended from 1910 to 1936, the tone that marked the inception of his reign died before him. "1We are at the beginning of another '■'Georgian Period" which may [take] rank in due time with the several great poetic ages of the past"1 (236), Εαν/arc! Marsh wrote in 1912, yet in poetic circles the word "Georgian" had come by ISl7 already to have a fusty air. The blame for that must be attributed in part to the set of literary predilections that, in the end, did most to define for poetic history the word "Georgian." The five volumes of GEORGIAN POETRY which Marsh edited and Harold Munro published determine the scope of Professor Ross's book. Its ten chapters are allotted to Marsh, Munro, and the literary scene in 1910—1912, to the first three volumes, to the changed scene after the war, to the "Decline and Fall" volumes, and to a somewhat arbitrary iisssssment of it all as "The Failure of the Imagination." Splitting the Georgian Movement into two phases, the systolic, with which Professor Ross sympathizes, and tie di astol i c—or the Georgian and the Neo-Georgian—we find GcORGIAM POiTKY IM (1917) marking the phase line. The poets who dominated the age from I9IO to 1917--"upert brooke, John Masefield. D. H. Lawrence--established the true Georgian temper, on, of "spiritual euphoria, a sense of vitality, antiVictorianism , realism, and freedom of poetic diction." (237) But the word "Georgian" crime to connote the qualities of the Neo-Georgians, the villains of the movement in Fmoi^so: Ross's view, lie equates them roughly with the Squirarchy of the LONOOiJ MERCURY—S i r -John Squire, Edward Shanks, John Freeman, and V/. J. Turner-'-md. without iaucii .!ocument.rjti on, blames them for log-rolling and coterie in-fighting- Yet the "rail of a poetic ideal" is attributed less to their tactics than their verse. Here questions arise, It is disturbing to be told that Marsh, in 1919 and again in I922, had "no alternative to che Neo-Georgian landscape verse and catalogue poetry." (233) Even Squire was writing wittier verse than appeared in Marsh's anthology, and Freem¿n and Turner both were pulling away, despite Marsh's solicitations. On the othe¡ hand, one of the few poets to appear in all five volumes is D„ H, Lawrence, and his position as the Georgian star calls for more dubiety than this text accords it, Are his Georgian poems really masterworks? As the only poems labelled "masterpieces" by Professor Ross, "Snapdragons" and "Snake" would seern fair enough examples with which to judge the Georgian revolt. 270 It is difficult to reread them without feeling that greatness is missing. "Snapdragons " is surely an example of private emotion exceeding the public form devised for it (pace T. S. Eliot on "Hamlet") and "Snake," despite its trim anti-Victorian stance, diffuses a peculiarly late-Edwardian smugness: the speaker ascribes his stick-hurling to the fault of his parents, yet conceives it, 0 felix culpa, as a pettiness for him to expiate. With the well a public one and the snake clearly a poisonous one, the reflex he would extirpate wou'd seem a healthy one, the poem thus an essentially sentimental one, more...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 269-271
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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