THE OXFORD POETS: DR. HARESHWAR ROY






 W.H. Auden, Stephen Spender, Cecil Day Lewis and Louis Mac Neice are known as oxford poets. These poets are called the four Musketeers of the Oxford Movement. These poets were Oxford graduates. They had been great friends when they were undergraduates. In the beginning Michael Roberts organised these poets. Later on the leadership passed to W.H. Auden.


            The poetry of Oxford poets is intellectual and unemotional. These poets took interest in political and economic affairs. They thought that Marxism was the only source to end all the evils of the man's life. They abominated bourgeois society. They affirmed their faith in revolution. According to them revolution would bring about a new order and new values. The new world order would be communistic. The Oxford poets also show the influence of Freud. Their poetical technique was greatly influenced by Imagism, French, Symbolisms and Hopkins-Eliot innovations.


W.H. Auden: W.H. Auden is known as an Oxford poet. He was a versatile writer. He played a very important role as the leader of Oxford poets. He was influenced by Eliot, Hopkins, Owen, Kipling, Graves, Freud and Marx.

Auden's literary career is divided into two phases. In the first phase he published poems and the Orators. At this stage he was influenced by both Marx and Freud. Thus his early poetry shows a strange fusion of Freudian and Marxist views. He found the solution of all social and political ills in left wing political ideologies. The main theme of his early poems is social criticism and protest. This early poetry expresses the poet's reaction to the political, social and economic issues of 1930's.

The second phase of his poetry began in 1939. His later poetry consists of The Shield Achilles, Homage to Clio, and About The House. This second phase shows a change in Auden interests. The poetry of this phase reflects his deep understanding of life and its problems. After sometime Auden gave up communism. Consequently his poetry took a religious and metaphysical turn. In short, Auden is a great poet, artist and experimenter in verse form. His poetry is fascinating because it traces 20th century quest.



Stephen Spender: Stephen is also an important Oxford poet. In the beginning he too was attracted by left wing politics. Apart from politics his poetry shows deep empathy with essential human condition. Perhaps this is what makes Spender more relevant as a poet. His important works are - poems, Vienna, The Still Centre, Ruins and Visions, World Within A World. He also composed some highly moving poems on war. His poetry is a beautiful combination of his political commitment with his own personal feeling and emotions. He was an accomplished poetic artist who used exact words.


Cecil Day Lewis: Lewis was a brilliant critic, a great translator and fine story writer. But he is remembered as a gifted poet. His early poetry reflects his political inclination but in his later poetry he turned to personal and pastoral themes. His important works are - From Feathers To Iron, The Magnetic Mountain and A Time For Dance. His poetry is modern and has meaning for us.

Louis MacNeice: He was also an Oxford poet. His works include - The Earth Compels, Plant and Phantom, Eighty Five Poems and The Burning Perch. This poet did not embrace any political ideology like other Oxford poets. His opinions about communism were fluctuating. His poetry expresses the anguish of the age of machine. In short, he was a great and gifted poetic artist.

            Thus the contribution of the Oxford poets is memorable. They changed the current of poetry and added new things to it.


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