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Georgian Poetry:

Georgian Poetry, The Waste Land, London Mercury, The Georgian Literary Scene, 1910–1935

series marsh verse anthologies

originally the title of a series of five poetry anthologies produced between 1912 and 1922, the term is more generally applied to predominantly rural and stylistically conventional verse of the kind the books tended to contain. The series was conceived by Edward Marsh, who proposed to invigorate English poetry at a time when it remained dominated by late Victorian reputations; the title Georgian Poetry reflected the enthusiastic sense of a new era that accompanied the accession of George V. in 1910. Rupert Brooke, strongly favoured by Marsh and regarded as a leading Georgian, publicized the venture and Harold Monro acted as publisher. In commercial terms the series was highly successful. The following were eminent among the total of thirty-six poets who contributed to the anthologies: Lascelles Abercrombie, Gordon Bottomley, W. H. Davies, Walter de la Mare, Wilfrid Gibson, Ralph Hodgson, James Stephens, and Andrew Young. While these and others produced work of note, the pedestrian rhythms, rural sentimentality, and imaginative banality of much of the verse has given ‘Georgian’ a distinct pejorative sense in the modern critical vocabulary. The blank verse dramas contributed by Abercrombie, Bottomley, and Gibson were among the most interesting material published in the series. Although the anthologies contained work by Edmund Blunden, Robert Graves, and Siegfried Sassoon, the most talented of the younger Georgian poets, Marsh did not publish any of the more disturbing examples of their war poetry; objections to the constraints imposed by his taste were voiced by Graves and Sassoon, the latter choosing not to be represented in the final volume of the series. D. H. Lawrence was another contributor who disagreed with Marsh's fundamentally conservative views on questions of form and content. After Marsh discontinued the series in 1922, coincidentally but aptly the year in which The Waste Land appeared, J. C. Squire's London Mercury provided a platform for Georgian verse, and a target for its detractors, for whom it represented the antithesis to poetic Modernism. F. Swinnerton's The Georgian Literary Scene, 1910–1935 (1950) surveys the social and cultural contexts of Georgian poetry.

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