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Explore the Craft of Writing Poetry
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    It would crack across the icy crust of withdrawn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

    ome 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 in the early 60s, 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."

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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