Lewis Criticism - Essay

David Daiches (essay date 1940)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: "Poetry in the 1930's, I: Cecil Day Lewis," in Poetry and the Modern World, The University of Chicago Press, 1940, pp. 190-213.

[Daiches is a prominent English scholar and critic who has written extensively on English and American literature. He is especially renowned for his in-depth studies of such writers as Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Virginia Woolf. His criticism in general is best characterized as appreciative in content and attached to no single methodology. In the essay "The 'New Criticism': Some Qualifications" (1950), Daiches summarized his conception of the critic's role: "In the last analysis, the test of [a work's] value can be judged only by the...

(The entire section is 5589 words.)

Francis Scarfe (essay date 1942)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Development of Day Lewis," in Auden and After: The Liberation of Poetry, 1930-1941, George Routledge & Sons Ltd., 1942, pp. 1-9.

[In the following essay, originally published in 1941, scholar and critic Scarfe looks at different stages in Day Lewis's verse to assess his progress as a poet, finding a "deep integrity and a firm attachment to the best human aspirations."]

Like Auden, Day Lewis is a deceptive poet, with a great deal of irrelevance in his work, but beneath it some solid virtues. He has sometimes been described as a Georgian gone wrong, and it is certain that in spirit he does not quite belong to the Auden group with which he has been...

(The entire section is 2453 words.)

Raymond Tschumi (essay date 1951)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Philosophical Element in C. Day Lewis's Poetry," in Thought in Twentieth-Century English Poetry, Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd, 1951, pp. 196-249.

[In the excerpt below, Swiss educator, author, poet and critic Tschumi analyzes various aspects of Day Lewis's major poetical works, pondering the author's endeavor to incorporate metaphysical elements and social concerns into his verse.]

Transitional Poem

Lewis writes, in his first period, poems of sustained unity, but with an analytical structure. Because of his discursive manner of composing, we have to respect the chronological order and to avoid a general discussion which would...

(The entire section is 12814 words.)

L. A. G. Strong (essay date 1953)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: "Notes on Four Contemporary Writers: I. Cecil Day Lewis," in Personal Remarks, Liveright Publishing Corporation, 1953, pp. 193-97.

[Calling Day Lewis "a poet of the first importance," Strong opines in the following essay that, while Day Lewis's "phase of intense political consciousness" produced some forceful writing, "he was obeying his conscience, not his genius."]

I want first of all to make clear the position from which I start. It is that Cecil Day Lewis is a poet of the first importance. To me, his work says more than that of any poet since Yeats. What he has accomplished is remarkable, and, to judge from his latest work, he promises even better things to...

(The entire section is 1597 words.)

Thomas Blackburn (essay date 1961)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: "Stephen Spender—Cecil Day Lewis—Louis MacNiece," in The Price of an Eye, William Morrow and Company, 1961, pp. 99-110.

[Here, English scholar and accomplished poet Blackburn maintains that the principal theme in Day Lewis's poetry is the intense significance—despite its mutability—of human life.]

Although he has an unfortunate tendency to write really appalling, keepsake verses for public occasions such as Royal Birthdays—this seems a kind of nervous tick—Cecil Day Lewis (b. 1904) is usually an honest poet. He does not versify ideas or luxuriate in images for their own sake, since his gift seems dovetailed to his personal experience and he uses it...

(The entire section is 1049 words.)

D. E. S. Maxwell (essay date 1969)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: "C. Day Lewis: Between Two Worlds," in Poets of the Thirties, 1969. Reprint by Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd, 1971, pp. 83-126.

[In the following excerpt, Irish educator and author Maxwell explores the poetic theories presented in Day Lewis's essay collection Revolution in Writing, particularly noting Marxist influences evident in Day Lewis's aesthetic]

[C] Day Lewis wrote Transitional Poem before his introduction to marxism. When he did turn to it, it offered him, because it appeared to grow from obvious facts, a system of ideas that he could use. In it, idea and fact seemed to be identified. On the one hand, deserted factories, slums,...

(The entire section is 2995 words.)