1950s Poetic Movements
- Beat Poetry
- Confessional Verse
- The Group isn't really a school or movement but simply a regular gatherings of poets in the mid 1950s that included Ted Hughes, Peter Redgrove, George MacBeth, Edward Lucie-Smith and the founders Philip Hobsbaum and his wife.
God of Love by George MacBeth
The musk-ox is accustomed to near-Arctic conditions.
When danger threatens, these beasts cluster together
to form a defensive wall, or a "porcupine",
with the calves in the middle.
Dr Wolfgang Engelhart
I found them between far hills, by a frozen lake.
On a patch of bare ground. They were grouped
In a solid ring, like an ark of horn. And around
Them circled, slowly closing in,
Their tongues lolling, their ears flattened against the wind,
A whirlpool of wolves. As I breathed, one fragment of bone and
Muscle detached itself from the mass and
Plunged. The pad of the pack slackened, as if
A brooch had been loosened. But when the bull
Returned to the herd, the revolving collar was tighter. And only
The windward owl, uplifted on white wings
In the glass of air, alert for her young,
Soared high enough to look into the cleared centre
And grasp the cause. To the slow brain
Of each beast by the frozen lake what lay in the cradle of their crowned
Heads of horn was a sort of god-head. Its brows
Nudged when the arc was formed. Its need
Was a delicate womb away from the iron collar
Of death, a cave in the ring of horn
Their encircling flesh had backed with fur. That the collar of death
Was the bone of their own skulls: that a softer womb
Would open between far hills in a plunge
Of bunched muscles: and that their immortal calf lay
Dead on the snow with its horns dug into
The ice for grass: they neither saw nor felt. And yet if
That hill of fur could split and run like a river
Of ice in thaw, like a broken grave
It would crack across the icy crust of withdrawn
Sustenance and the rigid circle
Of death be shivered: the fed herd would entail its under-fur
On the swell of a soft hill and the future be sown
On grass, I thought. But the herd fell
By the bank of the lake on the plain, and the pack closed,
And the ice remained. And I saw that the god
In their ark of horn was a god of love, who made them die.
- Movement Poets of the 20th century were known to be anti-poetic, sardonic and witty. Some Movement poets were Philip Larkin, Kingsley Amis, D. J. Enright, John Wain and Robert Conquest. It is much harder to find poems in the public domain by these contemporary poets.
Home is So Sad by Philip Larkin
Home is so sad. It stays as it was left,
Shaped to the comfort of the last to go
As if to win them back. Instead, bereft
Of anyone to please, it withers so,
Having no heart to put aside the theft
And turn again to what it started as,
A joyous shot at how things ought to be,
Long fallen wide. You can see how it was:
Look at the pictures and the cutlery.
The music in the piano stool. That vase.
- San Francisco Renaissance is an umbrella term for the hodgepodge of poets and artistic communities that came out of the San Francisco Bay Area after World War II through the late 40's, 50's and 60s. The Beat movement, Black Mountain poets, Black Arts etc. although often on opposing sides artistically and politically, all reflected the Pacific coastal environment and the various cultures that populated the area. Poets such as Kenneth Rexroth, Robin Blaser, Robert Duncan, Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder let poetry workshops at San Francisco State College (which is where I went to school, but unfortunately I was uninterested in poetry at the time, so I never heard any of them, my loss.) and UC Berkeley.
Codicil by Kenneth Rexroth 1956
Most of the world's poetry
Is artifice, construction.
No one reads it but scholars.
After a generation
It has grown so overcooked,
It cannot be digested.
There is little I haven't
Read, and dreary stuff it was.
Lamartine Gower Tasso
Or the metaphysicals
Of Cambridge, ancient or modern,
And their American apes.
Of course for years the ruling
Class of English poetry
Has held that that is just what
Poetry is, impersonal
Construction, where personal
Pronouns are never permitted.
If rigorously enough
Applied, such a theory
Produces in practice its
Opposite. The poetry
Of Eliot and Valéry,
Like that of Pope, isn't just
Personal, it is intense,
Subjective reverie as
Intimate and revealing,
Embarrassing if you will,
As the indiscretions of
The psychoanalyst's couch.
There is always sufficient
Reason for a horror of
The use of the pronoun, "I."