Historical Context

In the 1950s Britain witnessed a renewed interest in poetry, particularly in people who desired to move poetry foreword, or at least away from what some poets feared it was becoming. One phenomenon which received much attention then and which has gained a place in the literary history of England is a group of writers called The Movement. Consisting of Philip Larkin, Kinglsey Amis, John Wain, Thom Gunn, D. J. Enright, Donald Davie, John Holloway, Elizabeth Jennings, Robert Conquest, and a few others, The Movement stood for writing about real people and real events and in returning British poetry to a stricter versification, away from what they perceived as the growing sloppiness of free verse and other organic forms. In addition to opposing much of what was happening in American poetry, they opposed melodrama and hysteria, which they thought much of the poetry of World War II embodied, and (largely) thought of themselves as anti-romantic. Critics sometimes labeled them as conservative in their seeming resistance to experimentation and their desire to “forget” the war. The Movement’s work is showcased in Conquest’s anthologies, New Lines, and New Lines 2, published in 1956 and 1963 respectively. Some of the poets mentioned, however, claim that no such group existed, that it is largely a manufactured label for the convenience of literary critics, who need to lump and categorize to make sense of so many diverse approaches to poetry. In an interview...

(The entire section is 547 words.)