2 October 2013

An Impossible Fogey

Ivor Brown, I Commit to the Flames (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1934), p. 23:
Our new poets angrily announce that everything written more than twenty years ago is dead stuff, its language a winding-sheet. Therefore we must have only new modes, new metres, new diction. But they do not prove that all old poetry is dead poetry; the proof of that, after all, is the response of the readers. Nothing is dead which makes men feel alive. They merely announce the death and trample on the supposed corpse, which occasionally surprises them by standing up for itself, as Professor A. E. Housman did when he delivered the 1933 Leslie Stephen Lecture at Cambridge, choosing to speak on 'The Name and Nature of Poetry'. He actually did this without awaiting the by-your-leave of Mr. T. S. Eliot or asking permission of the new cacophonists, for which impertinence he was very sharply scolded in certain places. But Housman, I suppose, is an impossible fogey; he was writing poetry in the 'nineties; that settles any claims of his.