Autumn 1939 • Vol. I No. 4 NonfictionOctober 1, 1939 |

The Present State of Poetry: A Symposium: In England, in France, in the United States

I. In EnglandBy HERBERT READ To one whose practice in the art was formed a quarter of a century ago, the present state of English poetry cannot be altogether satisfying, and I can best begin this survey by recalling the ideals which then animated us—they are the basis from which I still, consciously or unconsciously, tend to criticize my contemporaries. We were in revolt, just before the War, against certain tame conventions which Hopkins (though we did not then know it) had described as Parnassian—a poeticism, or poetry derived from poetry, which Bridges represented at its best, Alfred Noyes at its worst. Masefield had tried to break through this literary stuffiness with a violence which was merely of words, not of essence or attitude; and the Georgians, with Rupert Brooke and Lascelles Abercrombie at their head, had only given a fresh coat of paint to the creaking Pegasus. The new impetus came from a very un-poetic source—the logical and cynical mind of T. E. Hulme; and f

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Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989) was one of the preeminent authors of the twentieth century: a poet, novelist, and literary critic who was one of the founders of New Criticism. He earned a master's degree at the University of California, studied at New College, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar; he taught at Vanderbilt, Louisiana State, the University of Minnesota, and Yale University. Warren was a charter member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. He received the Pulitzer Prize three times, for All the King's Men (1946) and for poetry (1958 and 1979). Three years before his death, he was appointed the first poet laureate of the United States.
Herbert Read (1893-1968) was a poet, critic, captain in the British Army, and an anarchist. He argued for an organic approach to art and literature and published many critical works concerning the philosophy of art. Read was knighted in 1953 and spent his later years as a writer, teacher, and publisher.

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