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1940s Poetic Movements

  • The Black Mountain Poets are a school of poetry from the 1940's centered at Black Mountain College North Carolina which promoted open form and was spawned in an environment attempting to create the ideal community. Also call projectivist poets, they based the frame of their poetry on the line, referred to as an utterance or a breath. Poetry Guide Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov were a few of the Black Mountain Poets.

    Passage Over Water by Robert Duncan

    We have gone out in boats upon the sea at night,
    lost, and the vast waters close traps of fear about us.
    The boats are driven apart, and we are alone at last
    under the incalculable sky, listless, diseased with stars.

    Let the oars be idle, my love, and forget at this time
    our love like a knife between us
    defining the boundaries that we can never cross
    nor destroy as we drift into the heart of our dream,
    cutting the silence, slyly, the bitter rain in our mouths
    and the dark wound closed in behind us.

    Forget depth-bombs, death and promises we made,
    gardens laid waste, and, over the wastelands westward,
    the rooms where we had come together bombed.

    But even as we leave, your love turns back. I feel
    your absence like the ringing of bells silenced. And salt
    over your eyes and the scales of salt between us. Now,
    you pass with ease into the destructive world.
    There is a dry crash of cement. The light fails,
    falls into the ruins of cities upon the distant shore
    and within the indestructible night I am alone.

  • Ciaro Poets were a group of poets based in North Africa during World War II. Kieth Douglas and Lawence Durrell were part of the group.

    Cairo Jag by Keith Douglas

    Shall I get drunk or cut myself a piece of cake,
    a pasty Syrian with a few words of English
    or the Turk who says she is a princess--she dances
    apparently by levitation? Or Marcelle, Parisienne
    always preoccupied with her dull dead lover:
    she has all the photographs and his letters
    tied in a bundle and stamped Decede in mauve ink.
    All this takes place in a stink of jasmine.

    But there are the streets dedicated to sleep
    stenches and the sour smells, the sour cries
    do not disturb their application to slumber
    all day, scattered on the pavement like rags
    afflicted with fatalism and hashish. The women
    offering their children brown-paper breasts
    dry and twisted, elongated like the skull,
    Holbein's signature. But his stained white town
    is something in accordance with mundane conventions-
    Marcelle drops her Gallic airs and tragedy
    suddenly shrieks in Arabic about the fare
    with the cabman, links herself so
    with the somnambulists and legless beggars:
    it is all one, all as you have heard.

    But by a day's travelling you reach a new world
    the vegetation is of iron
    dead tanks, gun barrels split like celery
    the metal brambles have no flowers or berries
    and there are all sorts of manure, you can imagine
    the dead themselves, their boots, clothes and possessions
    clinging to the ground, a man with no head
    has a packet of chocolate and a souvenir of Tripoli.

  • New Apocalypse Poets were a group of 1940s poets who rejected the classicism of Auden. "Their work was wild, turbulent and surrealist." (Poet's Graveyard) Some of the poets were Dylan Thomas, James Findlay Hendry, George Barker, Henry Treece and G.S.Fraser. They were in direct opposition with the Movement poets.

    The Waiting Watchers by Henry Treece

    They shall come in the black weathers
    From the heart of the dead embers,
    Walking one and two over the hill.
    And they shall be with you, never farther
    Than your bedside.
    At their will
    The smell of putrefaction lingers
    And floor is carpeted with rotting hair;
    Or sheets are torn to shreds
    By the beaks of dead dry birds
    And the red blood clots in your cup.
    Put up your swords!
    What steel can cut the throat of next year's dream,
    What tongue is tunes to speak last night's quick scream?
    Go alone by darkness;
    Burn the clippings of your nail;
    Donate a thousand candles.
    But do as you will,
    When sun is blind and lamps are lit once more,
    Two and one, they shall be standing
    At your door.

  • Objectivists was more a 20th century community of poets than a movement. This group of poets were inspired by Ezra Pound, WC Williams, and the Imagist Movement. Zukofsky who founded this group defined objectivism as sincerity and objectification. Some of the poets were Basil Bunting, Carl Rakosi, George Oppen, Charles Reznikoff, and Louis Zukofsky.

    From Odes: Chorus of Furies by Basil Bunting

    Let us come upon him first as if in a dream,
    anonymous triple presence,
    memory made substance and tally of heart's rot:
    then in the waking Now be demonstrable, seem
    sole aspect of being's essence,
    coffin to the living touch, self's Iscariot.
    Then he will loath the year's recurrent long caress
    without hope of divorce,
    envying idiocy's apathy or the stress
    of definite remorse.
    He will lapse into a half-life lest the taut force
    of the mind's eagerness
    recall those fiends or new apparitions endorse
    his excessive distress.
    He will shrink, his manhood leave him, slough self aware
    the last skin of the flayed: despair.
    He will nurse his terror carefully, uncertain
    even of death's solace,
    impotent to outpace
    dispersion of the soul, disruption of the brain.

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

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

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