Modern British Poetry

Modern British Poetry

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Louis Untermeyer’s Modern British Poetry provides an insightful and comprehensive overview of the major literary movements and prominent poets of the early 20th century in England. The book is organize thematically, with each section covering a particular period or movement, including the Georgian poets, the Imagists, and the poets of the First World War.

The End of Victorianism

Untermeyer begins his exploration of modern British poetry with a discussion of the end of Victorianism and the emergence of a new literary aesthetic. He notes that the poetry of the Victorian era was often parochial and pessimistic, lacking the universal appeal and emotional depth of earlier works. As the Victorian era came to a close, a new generation of writers sought to break away from this tradition and embrace new forms of expression.

The Rise of Decorative Art

Untermeyer discusses the rise of decorative art and its impact on the literary world, particularly the Decadent Movement and its emphasis on beauty and exoticism. He examines the works of Oscar Wilde, Aubrey Beardsley, and others who rejected the moral and practical purpose of literature in favor of purely aesthetic considerations.

The Esthetic Philosophy

The Esthetic Philosophy, which reject the idea of literature as a means to an end and instead celebrate its purely aesthetic qualities, is another important movement covered by Untermeyer. He discusses the works of Oscar Wilde and the Decadent poets, as well as the impact of the philosophy on later writers such as T.S. Eliot.

The Muscular Influence of Henley

Untermeyer examines the work of William Ernest Henley and his influence on the muscular, masculine form of literature that emerged in the early 20th century. Henley’s poetry was characterize by strong rhythms and bold imagery, and his influence can be see in the works of Rudyard Kipling and T.S. Eliot.

The Celtic Revival in Ireland

Untermeyer delves into the cultural and literary movement known as the Celtic Revival, which sought to revive and celebrate Ireland’s ancient heritage. He explores the works of W.B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, and J.M. Synge, among others, and their impact on Irish literature and culture.

Rudyard Kipling and the Ascendancy of Mechanism

Untermeyer examines the influence of Rudyard Kipling, one of the most popular writers of the early 20th century. Kipling’s work reflected the growing influence of technology and industry on society. His writing was characterize by its precision, clarity, and directness. Untermeyer explores Kipling’s impact on later modernist writers such as Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot.

John Masefield and the Return of the Rhymed Narrative

Untermeyer discusses the work of John Masefield, another important figure in early 20th century literature. Masefield’s poetry and prose often had a strong narrative element. He revived the use of traditional forms such as the ballad and the sonnet. Untermeyer examines Masefield’s impact on the return of the rhymed narrative and the role of narrative in modernist literature.

The War and the Appearance of “The Georgians”

Untermeyer concludes with a discussion of the impact of World War I on literature. Particularly the emergence of “The Georgians,” a new generation of poets. Who rejected the complex, allusive style of modernism in favor of a simpler, more direct approach. Their work was often characterize by its nostalgia for the past and its celebration of traditional values and rural life.


In conclusion, “Modern British Poetry” by Louis Untermeyer is an informative. And insightful collection of poems and critical analysis of modern British literature. It provides a comprehensive view of the major trends and influences. That shaped modern British poetry from the late 19th century to the mid-20th century.

Untermeyer’s critical commentary on each poem is invaluable to readers who are new to modern British poetry. His commentary helps readers to understand the context and the significance of the poem. And also sheds light on the poet’s personal life and influences.

“Modern British Poetry” is an excellent resource for anyone interest in modern British poetry. It is not only an enjoyable read. But also a great reference book that readers can go back to again and again. Louis Untermeyer’s love and enthusiasm for poetry is evident in his collection. His insightful commentary makes this book a must-read for anyone who wants to explore the rich. And varied landscape of modern British poetry