Mole Valley Poets - Meeting 24th September 2012
Tony Earnshaw: The Thirties' Poets

An influential generation. Left leaning, between wars, moving away from old forms. Sometimes referred to as the Auden group, though they were never a group. MacSpaunday - MacNeice, Spender, Auden, Day Lewis - at the core. Inspired by T S Eliot but felt betrayed by his espousal of high Anglicanism.

Penguin published 'Poetry of the Thirties' in 1964, edited by Robin Skelton and the notes and comments are largely his, taken from his introduction. I have also broken up the poems into sections following the structure of that collection. I've tried to cover not only the main poets but a broader range. A lot of poets, and therefore poems. So the surrounding verbiage is précised.


The poems

I. 'In Our Time'

"Come then companions, this is the spring of blood,
heart's heyday, movement of masses, beginning of good",
- Rex Warner, 'Hymn'
Song for the New Year - W H Auden (47)
The Magnetic Mountain - C Day Lewis (49)

II. 'The Landscape'

The Pylons - Stephen Spender (99)

III. 'To Walk With Others'

'I think continually ..' - Spender (111)
'Carol' - John Short (114)
'Death in Leamington' - John Betjeman (121)
'Public House Confidence' - Norman Cameron (127)

IV. 'And I remember Spain'

'Autumn journal' - Louis MacNeice (160)
'A moment of war' - Laurie Lee (149)
'A thousand killed' - Bernard Spencer (141)

V. 'As for ourselves'

'I have longed to move away' - Dylan Thomas (185)
'Lay your sleeping head' - Auden (191)
'Reflection from Anita Loos' - William Empson (184)

VI. 'When Logics Die'

'And death shall have no dominion' - Dylan Thomas (216)
'Animal Crackers in your croup' - Roger Roughton (239)

VII. 'Hair between the toes'

'Apotheosis of a hero' - Ruthven Todd (268)
'The progress of poetry' - Christopher Caudwell (265)

VIII. 'Farewell Chorus'

'The sunlight on the garden' - MacNeice (273)
'It was easier' - Ruthven Todd (275)

"And so Goodbye, grim Thirties. These your closing days
Have shown a new light. Motionless and far
And clear as ice, to our sore riddled eyes;
And we see certain truths now, which the fear
Aroused by earlier circumstances could but compromise,
Concerning all men's lives. Beyond despair
May we take wiser leave of you, knowing disasters' cause."

From Farewell Chorus by David Gascoyne

Tony Earnshaw September 2012