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Georgian Poetry

Georgian poetry was a poetic movement in England that lasted from 1910 to 1936 during the reign of George V.

The works of the participating poets were included in Georgian Poetry, a series of anthologies. Some of the poets who are included in this category are: 

These poets, as well as a few others, were only influential on their contemporaries for a short period of time. But, their names are all quite well-known today. The Georgian Poetry anthologies, which included five separate collections, were published by Harold Monro and edited by Edward Marsh. The first included poems written in 1911 and 1912. Female poets were only included in the final two volumes. 

Georgian poetry pronunciation: jor-gee-in poh-e-tree

Georgian Poetry

 

Definition and Explanation of Georgian Poetry

Georgian poetry, or Georgianism, is defined by a respect for formal qualities of poetry and romantic subject matter.  The poems used clear and simple rhyme schemes and metrical patterns and often uses themes of nature and rural life. After the First World War, and the devastation that came along with it, the Georgian poetry movement receded into the background. It was replaced by various movements within the broader modernist genre. Today, the word “Georgian” can have a pejorative connotation when applied to poetry. 

The movement is perfectly situated in-between the Victorian era and Modernism. The Former is know for its stoic adherence to traditional formal principles while the alters defined by the exact opposite. Most of the poems published in the anthologies were marked by their romanticism and hedonism. Many were also noted for their sentimentality. 

 

Examples of Georgian Poetry

Storm in the Black Forest by D.H. Lawrence

This piece recalls a storm that the speaker, perhaps Lawrence himself, saw in the Black Forest. It is thought that this was an experience he documented approximately a year before he died, making ‘Storm in the Black Forest’ one of the last poems Lawrence ever wrote. The speaker spends the poem talking about the lack of control he has over nature and then speaking more broadly about how humanity is at the mercy of external natural forces. Here are the first four lines of ‘Storm in the Balck Forest’ :

Now it is almost night, from the bronzey soft sky

jugfull after jugfull of pure white liquid fire, bright white

tipples over and spills down,

and is gone

Read more poetry by D.H. Lawrence.

 

The Cool Web by Robert Graves

In this piece, Graves explores human experience and communication. Throughout, he uses figurative language and emotionally interesting images to depict how useful and important speech is. It is used to define the human experience and by altering one’s speech one can, in theory, alter the experience. 

How dreadful the black wastes of evening sky, 

How dreadful the tall soldiers drumming by. 

But we have speech that cools the hottest sun, 

And speech that dulls the hottest roses scent. 

We spell away the overhanging night, 

We spell away the soldiers and the fright. 

In these first lines, Graves demonstrates the power of language to change the way one views and experiences the world. Read more of Robert Grave’s poetry.

 

Humming-bird by D.H. Lawrence 

In this piece, the poet depicts the musings of a speaker enchanted by a hummingbird’s fantastical past. The poem begins with the speaker describing how he’s able to “imagine” a world that’s different from that he understands on a daily basis. Here is the first stanza: 

I can imagine, in some otherworld

Primeval-dumb, far back

In that most awful stillness, that gasped and hummed,

Humming-birds raced down the avenues.

Also, read the best poems about birds.

 

The Great Lover by Rupert Brooke 

In this mostly optimistic poem, the speaker spends time talking about the kind of life he lived and how happy he’s been throughout it. He has been a “great lover” of life, experiences, and physical objects. The poem concludes with the speaker looking into the future and thinking about what comes after death. He knows he’s going to lose everything he loved throughout his life when he dies. Here are the first four lines of the poem in which the rhyme scheme is obvious: 

I have been so great a lover: filled my days

So proudly with the splendour of Love’s praise,

The pain, the calm, and the astonishment,

Desire illimitable, and still content,

Read more poetry from Rupert Brooke.

 

Georgian Poetry Anthologies History 

Scholars have noted that the original concept for the Georgian Poetry anthologies came about as a joke between Edward Marsh, Duncan Grant, and George Mallory. It was their intention to publish a party of the numerous small books of poetry appearing in the 1910s. While they took on the task lightheartedly at first, they soon decided to focus on the volumes more seriously. The first book was published by Harold Monro, the owner of the recently owned The Poetry Bookshop, in Bloomsbury, London. He received half the profits in return for his work. When Edward Marsh decided that it was time to include a female poet in the collections, he selected Fredegond Shove. Four of her poems from Dreams and Journeys appeared in the third volume of Georgian Poets. In the final collection, readers can find a few poems by Vita Sackville-West. 

 

Importance of Georgian Poetry 

Today, as a movement, Georgianism has been largely forgotten. It’s placement in-between the Victorian Period and the start of Modernism meant that it was always going to have less of an impact than the movements that came before and after it. Despite this, it’s likely that readers will be familiar with at least one name on the list of the major Georgian poets. This is less of a testament to the movement and more of a testament to the strength of their individual works and how well they resonated with the public. 

 

Related Literary Terms 

  • Literary Modernism: originated in the late 19th and 20th centuries. It was mainly focused in Europe and North America.
  • Lost Generation: refers to a group of writers who came of age during World War I and dealt with the social changes the war brought.
  • Imagism: a literary movement of the early 20th century. The proponents were interested in the use of precise imagery and clear language.
  • Romanticism: a movement that originated in Europe at the end of the 18th century and emphasized aesthetic experience and imagination.

 

Other Resources 

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