Thursday, September 30, 2021

Appreciation …

… Reading Walter de la Mare, edited by William Wootten book review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

De la Mare … as Wootten argues, often seems to be “less interested in the thing itself than in the effect it happens to produce”, a Symbolist poetics that fosters mystery as a stylistic equivalent to the pervasive theme of otherness. Modernism might have seen poets like de la Mare as escapist, retreating from a direct engagement with objective reality, but as this often metaphysical poet illustrates, the imaginative world has its own veracity, seeking to offer not absolute truths but intuitive ones. Looked at like this, de la Mare’s fascination with childhood (and, in many cases, his desire to write poems that could be enjoyed by children and adults alike), seems less a regress than a deeply felt belief that this period was “the fullest of life”, one where “imagination and perception were more acute and alive than they could be again”. De la Mare might even be considered a discreet Surrealist, occasionally anachronistic but of a mind with André Breton’s claim that “childhood is the only reality”.


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