Poets of Merseyside.
An Anthology of To-day
Chosen and edited by S. Fowler Wright
Acknowledgments for permission to reprint are due to
It is sometimes said, very foolishly, that poetry is antipathetic to the atmosphere of a great city, or the activities of commercial life. It is supposed to have its natural home in quieter and more bucolic surroundings.
The poetic colour is green. The poetic afflatus arises from a leisurely contemplation of birds and flowers - and perhaps beetles.
It is more poetic to consider a cream cow than a steam crane. Milk that foams in the pail has an inspiration denied to beer that foams in the pewter, - and even pewter has become rare from the hands of the city barmaid; or, at least, so I am told, being a drinker of water, and having little personal knowledge of these high matters.
But love and war, in their widest meanings, not lambs and buttercups, have been the inspiration of song since the dawn of history, and will still be so when the grass is green in Lime Street.
What is a city?
It is a space of ground from which all contending growths have been ruthlessly stamped out, so that the maximum quantity of human life may be contained in that area.
Generation by generation, moth to flame, the population of the country-side crowds in, and weakens, and dies, and is replaced by others who, in the second or third generation, must perish also. And always round it, sleeplessly, night and day, knowing it must gain at last, the back-driven wilderness fights to regain its own.
Poetry is everywhere that 'heart-blood beats or hearth-smoke curls', but a city is the cradle where romance is bred.
And what is commerce but war, and of all wars the most adventurous, - and the most ruthless? Owning the wolf-pack law that he who shows a wound shall be destroyed without mercy.
Yet a war with many chivalries and probities, with many fortitudes and valours, that shall be nameless till the books are closed, and the last count taken.
Poetry is everywhere: but commerce is the incarnation of romance itself.
There may have been an occasion when the editor of an anthology was content with the result of his work, though I think it unlikely. It is less probable that it found a reader to share his satisfaction.
The finished result indicates little of the labour of preparation. The selection made is only certainly successful in revealing the preferences, - and prejudices, - of the compiler.
I do not suppose myself to be exempt from these failings, but I have at least endeavoured to discover every kind of genuine poetry which is now being written on the Merseyside, and to represent it, not as I think it ought, or as I should like it to be, but as it actually is to-day; and this work has, at least, been unprejudiced in that I am not a native of Liverpool, nor is any of the contributors personally known to me, or I to him.
It is not probable that all the contents of such an anthology will appeal equally to any one reader. Those who find delight in the new and very beautiful art of Mr. Olaf Stapledon may be blind to the solid merits of the more conventional poetry of Mr. Hugh McColl. Those who are attracted by 'Between the Valleys and the Hills' may be repelled by 'God the Artist.' Either of them may have difficulty in doing justice to the artistic merits of their antipathy, and both of them may be cold to the magic of 'Sea Change,' the romanticism of 'Fountain Square,' or the delicate charm of Miss Saxton's poems on the Liverpool streets.
But this is Liverpool poetry not as any of us would choose it to be, but as it actually is to-day; and, to my thinking, the range is wide, and the standard high.
The contributors are natives of the Merseyside. They are all living, with the exception of G.S. Swindells, whose work it seemed unfair to exclude on the ground of his recent and untimely death.
Abbey House, Westminster, S.W.1. July 26, 1923.
Peel Fishing Fleet
A Sleep Charm
Catherine M. Jackson
Go not to Sleep on the Cliffs of Desire
Domine Quo Vadis
Godfrey W. Mathews
The Seas of Death
The Sussex Downland
The Lady and The Jester
Hugh R. McColl
Between the Valleys and the Hills
A Song of Life
My Wife, My Queen
Dorothy, Bella, and Bess
Rev. Stanley A. Mellor
Violets and White Hawthorn
John Pride (From 'Ballads of Windytree.)
The Bright Horse Shoe
Din dan don ding
The Bear Dance
The Slum Wash
When I am Old
Time the Mischievous
God the Artist
A Prophet's Tragedy
Revolt against Death
The Relativity of Beauty
The Butterfly's Cradle-Song
The Clown Protests
John H. Warren
The Lost Traveller's Dream
Sun and Cloud
The Ceaseless Lash
J. Reginal Wilmot
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An Anthology Of Contemporary Verse
VOICES ON THE WIND
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SCENES from the MORTE D'ARTHUR.
SOME SONGS OF BILITIS.
'Some Songs of Bilitis' have the airy grace of all true lyrical poetry. Mr. Fowler Wright has all the poet's love of glowing colour, and of strange sensuous music. He is essentially a poet of classical ideals, and there are instances where he creates a sense of glimmering - and never quite luminous - beauty in the vague richness of one magical phrase.' - Birmingham Post.
Published 1917 1/- monthly
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