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alter de la are - A ultivator of antasy

alter de la Mare (1873-1956), poet, anthologist, essayist and critic, belongs like his contemporary James Stephens (whose The Goats Paths is absolutely divine) to the so-called Georgian poets. The term 'Georgian' was coined in 1912 as a purely descriptive phrase and applied to a body of poetry written in English during the 1920s and 1930s. By the end of that period it had become a term of critical abuse, a remarkable instance of idiocy which need not concern us here, since Llydien sings the Georgians' praise! Other notable Georgians were writers like Ralph Hodgson, Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, the latter of whom also came under the label of 'Trench Poets'. Read the poem Counter Attack by Sassoon and you know exactly why. Here speaks the terrible voice of experience.

he beauty of de la Mare's poetry is best summed up in a typically narrow-minded remark by the literary critic H.Coombes. Coombes, for those interested, is a prime example of a certain insufferably condescending and patronising tradition in English language literary criticism. Their essays can be found, among other publication, in certain Guides to Literature of the 1950s and 60s. You know the type, the only good poetry/literature is written in the English language, only traditional canons of literature count as Literature (with a capital L!), their opinion on the literary merits or otherwise of a poet is the ultimate and only truth, and basically they embrace the task of deciding which poetry is 'good' and 'valuable' and which isn't. This kind of patronising stupidity makes Llydien want to send them nasty virus e-mails.

oombes is scathing about de la Mare's work: '...most of his poetry evades reality. He cultivated fantasy...'. (The Pelican Guide to English Literature, v 7, p. 146). Well, it is precisely these two traits that make de la Mare into one of Llydien's heroes! Way to go Walter!!! Lead the way! Here, then, follow three of Llydien's most absolutely favourite poems ever. Note that none of them are the typical anthologised de la Mare poems. Excerpts are taken from the 1951 Faber & Faber edition of the Collected Poems of Walter de la Mare.

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