Учебное пособие по английскому языку




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Unit VIII




I. Read the text and do the assignments following it.

Survey of Poetry



There was a profound change in the climate of literature during the decade immediately following the end of the First World War. Poetry, which appears most contemporary in spirit, has a different look from that which preceded it. Such is the shifting character of historical reality that poems which looked important in the 1930s owing to their contemporaneity look less important in 1960. What appeared outmoded in the 1920s may be called Georgianism; what was new may be called Modernism.

One of the greatest English poets is William Butler Yeats (1865–1939). He derived a poetic style from Pre-Raphaelites and the subject matter from Celtic legend. Some of Yeats's early poems now appear precious and others such as "Down by the Salley Gardens" have become a part of the lyrical tradition of English poetry. In his middle period, that of "Responsibilities" (1914) and "The Wild Swans at Coole" (1917) he adopted a plainer, more homespun style, and themes of more immediate contemporary interest.

But it was the work of his last period that earned him his posthumous reputation as one of the most talented poets. His later poetry resolves the conflict between the romantic pseudo-philosophical and mystical side of Yeats's character and the ambitious politician: the feudal realist.

Given below is W.B. Yeats's famous poem "When You Are Old."


When you are old and grey and full of sleep

And nodding by the fire, take down this book,

And slowly read, and dream of the soft look,

Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep.

How many loved your moments of glad grace

And loved your beauty with love false or true,

But one man loved the pilgrim's soul in you

And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,

Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled

And paced upon the mountains overhead

And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.


Alfred Edward Housman (1859–1936) was a forerunner of the Georgian movement which was, during the First World War and for some years after it, the leading force in English poetry. As a movement it was very loosely co-ordinated and had no formal platform or programme.

Housman had localized his poems in the agricultural county of Shropshire, and like him the Georgians were consciously English in reaction against the Continental influences. The outbreak of war in 1914 gave the movement a still stronger patriotic impulse. Its Englishness consisted rather in an extremely articulate consciousness of the beauty of the English landscape, its ancient villages and declining rural crafts. One of the causes of the later reaction against Georgianism was its failure to take note of urban and industrial manifestations, except by way of protest.

With certain exceptions the Georgians mostly wrote short poems, free from didactic intention, simple in theme, neither strenuously passionate nor intellectually demanding. They accepted traditional lyrical forms and metres and were unexperimental.

They appealed to, and reached, a very wide public, and during the period of their ascendancy poetry achieved a popularity it has lacked since their decline.

A.E. Housman's work consists of two volumes of short poems – "A Shropshire Lad" (1896) and "Last Poem" (1922). In a short poem from the first collection he sings praise to the beauty of the English landscape which is in harmony with the youth's feeling.


In the morning, in the morning,

In the happy field of hay,

Oh, we looked at one another

In the light of day.

In the blue and silver morning,

In the haycock as we lay,

Oh, we looked at one another

And we looked away.


In his poem "When I Was One-and-Twenty" he says:


When I was one-and-twenty

I heard a wise man say,

Give pounds and crowns and guineas

But not your heart away:

Give pearls away and rubies

But keep your fancy free,

But I was one-and-twenty

No use to talk to me.

When I was one-and-twenty

I heard him say again,

The heart out of the bosom

Was never given in vain;

'tis1 paid with sighs aplenty

And sold for endless rue.

And I am one-and-twenty

And oh, 'tis true, is true.


At the age of seventy-three he embodied in a single lecture his unorthodox and provocative views on "The Name and Nature of Poetry" (1932). The distinguishing marks of his poems are a concrete and economical vocabulary, a rhythm regular but without monotony, a classic brevity. These lyrics, partly because of their technical assurance and partly because of their unmistakable emotional conviction, gained wide and rapid currency. The English quality background made a strong national appeal.

Among the most prominent and prolific of the Georgians was John Masefield, whose "Salt Water Ballads" (1902) celebrated the English seafaring tradition, and made a great many readers think they were more nautically minded than they were. In 1911 "The Everlasting Mercy" inaugurated a new series of realistic narrative poems whose brutality of theme and treatment aroused considerable attention. In 1919 Masefield expressed the Englishman's love of fox-hunting in his long Chaucerian narrative of "Reynard the Fox," which attained enormous popularity. As a lyric and reflective poet he was somewhat neglected, and his wide appeal was due to his fellow-country-men's love of action.

Walter de la Mare also made his first appearance in 1902 with "Songs of Childhood." This was followed by further collections of short of unusual imaginative quality, notable "The Listeners" (1912) and "Peacock Pie" (1913), one of the most beautiful books of poems of his generation.


Tom sang for joy and Ned sang for joy

and old Sam sang for joy;

All we four boys piped up loud, just like one boy;

And the ladies that sat with the Squire,

their cheeks were all wet,

For the noise of the voice of us, boys,

when we sang our Quartette.


As a writer of poems about, and for, children, de la Mare is almost unsurpassed. In other moods he showed a marked attraction for the uncanny, and revealed a world of suggestion existing somewhere between reality and pure fantasy.


Notes:


1. 'tis = it is


II. Translate into Russian the following words and word combinations and use them in the sentences of your own:


contemporaneity, outmoded, to derive a poetic style from, the subject matter, precious, to earn a posthumous reputation, a forerunner, to be loosely coordinated, to localize the poems in, urban and industrial manifestations, free from didactic intention, a distinguishing mark, a regular rhythm, a classic brevity, to gain currency, to make a strong national appeal, prolific, to inaugurate, to attain enormous popularity, to be neglected.


III. Discuss the poetic legacy of W.B. Yeats, A.E. Housman, J. Masefield, W. de la Mare with your fellow students.


IV. Try to give the translation of the poems given in text in verse.


V. Recite one of the poems given above.

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