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Faber Book of Modern Verse, The

New Signatures, New Country

roberts poetry anthology introduction

an anthology of twentieth-century poetry, edited by Michael Roberts, published in 1936. The only nineteenth-century poet included was Gerard Manley Hopkins; his influence following the first collection of his work in 1918 was integral to the book's attempt to define the modern movement in terms of technique and sensibility. Roberts's introduction argued that social and moral factors were significant in determining matters of form and content; he suggested that the alleged difficulty of much modern poetry resulted from its authenticity of relation between language, style, and experience in an age of rapid cultural change and religious uncertainty. Passages from Clough are cited as an English precedent for the ironically poised tone in the writings of Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, and others, and the value of a European literary perspective is emphasized. The introduction is a restrained polemic for what Roberts wished to establish as ‘post-Georgian’ poetry; the phrase is used in his correspondence regarding the anthology with Eliot, who, favourably impressed with Roberts's editorship of New Signatures (1932) and New Country (1933), had commissioned him on behalf of Faber to undertake the project. W. H. Auden, George Barker, William Empson, David Gascoyne, and Dylan Thomas were among the younger of the thirty-six contributors to the book, which also introduced the work of numerous American poets to a British readership. The anthology was directly instrumental in forming the tastes of succeeding generations of readers. Three revised editions containing additional material appeared under the editorships of Anne Ridler (1951), Donald Hall (1965), and Peter Porter (1982), the last being intended as final.

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