..something had died in the night, and no one had noticed

The etiolated lyrics of the English Edwardian poets, followed by the feeble poetic productions of the years which followed, should sound a warning note; something has gone out of the mixture. We are drinking a martini cocktail in which someone has forgotten to put the spirits. Yeats, speaking of the high horse in whose saddle Homer rode, found it in his day to be ‘riderless’.

It was this fact which the young Ezra Pound, however tiresome he might seem to us, could feel. It was something much more than the mere coincidence, which happens every few decades in any literary culture, that apart from the Irishman Yeats and the old Thomas Hardy there were so few poets of any stature writing in Britain in 1908. It was something much deeper than that. Something had died in the night, and no one had noticed.  We are told that the Edwardian period was some kind of glory age, the last summer afternoon before the storm, the brightly lit house party before they all went to die in the mud. Of course on sees how such a perception can be formed. But it might be truer to say that the culture which could allow itself to move into the First World War was one which was already moribund, morbid.

– A. N. Wilson, After the Victorians (2005)

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