The Works of Sydney Fowler Wright 1874 - 1965

From Overseas - First Series
An Anthology of Contemporary Dominion And Colonial Verse

Edited and Arranged by S. FOWLER WRIGHT

Published by: The Merton Press Ltd.,
Abbey House, Westminster, London, S.W.1.


        This volume is the first of a series which is intended to issue annually, containing examples of the poetry which is being written in all parts of the Empire, outside Great Britain.

        They will be companion volumes to the series, 'Voices On The Wind,' of which the first was issued about twelve months ago, and the second is now in course of publication.

        An anthologists's preface may vary in other particulars, but it most usually contains a claim that a comprehensive selection has been made from the period or locality with which it is dealing.

        One of the best anthologies of modern poetry which has been issued in recent years stultifies itself at the outset by the statement that it included all that is best in English poetry for the last fifty years, the falsity of which must be obvious, even to the casual reader.

        Certainly, no such claim is made for these volumes.

        The anthologist who claims to be comprehensive not only alienates every reader who looks for his own preference and does not find it, but handicaps himself by the implied necessity of including so much which is already familiar that he has little space for what id new, or for the work of those who have not published in sufficient bulk to have won an established reputation among their contemporaries.

        In another way, he is betrayed into falsehood. There will almost certainly be some varities of poetry produced in the time or territory he is surveying to which he is personally hostile or indifferent. If such work has won general popularity, he may include examples of it: if it has not, he will certainly exclude it. In either case, it may be very bad poetry, but that is not the point.

        If there be ten poets in the Bahamas, and six of them have elected to rhyme their verses on the penultimate syllable, he may rightly think the practice deplorable, but that would not justify him in publishing specimens of the work of the remaining four as a comprehensive anthology of Bahama poetry.

        But though this volume does not aim to be comprehensive, it does claim with assurance to be significant and characteristic of the poetry which is now being written in all parts of the Empire, - both characteristic and significant in a way in which no other anthology now published can claim to be.

        If we consider the very best anthologies of English poetry, 'The Golden Treasury' or 'The Oxford Book of English Verse,' or any other you will, - we find that they have one feature in common, - as they progress from earlier to more recent periods the technical standard of the selections given advances steadily, while there is a corresponding diminution in the average of their more vital qualities. The verse is better, and the poetry worse. Does this imply that we have sunk to lower levels of essential poetry? or that we have greatly advanced in technical excellence? I think neither.

        The second alternative appears to be decisively negatived by the fact that many modern authors are so daunted by the art of their predecessors that they have elected to write with deliberate badness, as the only means of obtaining the recognition which they believe themselves to merit. They call it originality: not perhaps, realising the number of similar experimenters who have been forgotten through preceding centuries.

        I think the explanation to be simply this, - good poetry which is structurally deficient has an inferior probability of immediate recognition, while verse which is technically excellent, but common-place in its poetic content, is readily acclaimed by its contemporaries, but is quickly forgotten as its structural qualities become familiar or obsolete.

        The finest lyrics of Shelley would have little chance in a poetry competition today. He would be told to study a rhyming dictionary.

        I do not suppose that anyone conversant with my own work would be disposed to accuse me of lacking respect technique; but I am convinced that it is worthless as a substitute for essential poetry. Better a prince in rags than a knave in purple.

        Reading the latest volume of 'Georgian Poetry,' the query came to my mind very forcibly. 'can these dry bones live?' but a moment's thought showed me that there was no apossiteness in the quotation. A bone, however dead, has lived once, and may conceivably do so again. The exercises in verse of which that volume consists will never die, being lifeless.

        There may - or there may not - be tragedy in the existence of a 'mute inglorious Milton'; but there is certainly tragedy when the desire and ability to write is given to a man of plebeian mind.

        The most hostile critic of Mr. Osbert Sitwell must admit that he would be able to write good poetry, it he were so fortunate as to have any poetry to write, just as the most contemptuous critic of Mr. John Oxenham must admit that there is good poetry in him, though he may not be so fortunate as to be able to write it.

        There are many poets, - or where would poetry find its readers? - but the power of expression is exceptional.

        In selecting verse which has won local recognition for a wider publicity, I have been guided first by the desire to choose such as is most truly representative of the art practised in the locality which has produced it; and beyond that I have been influenced by its poetic content, and last - though not always least - by its technical qualities.

        I think the result of this method of selection will be found to be a book of authentic and vital poetry; of unusual variety both in subject and execution; and affording a far truer indication of the tendencies of contemporary art, both on its creative and perceptive sides, than would be possible from a choice made with a narrower sympathy, or by more arbitrary or less tolerant standards.

        Among the selections made I think a very special interest attaches to the contributions of Indian writers.

        Less distant from ourselves, both in race and language, than some of our nearest neighbours, - the Erse for example, - but separated by milleniums of difference in climate and culture, their adoption of our language as a medium of poetic expression cannot fail to have important reactions upon our Empire literature, of which the influence of Tagore will not be the last example.

Abbey House, Westminster, January, 1924


L.H. ALLEN (Australia)
        Hippolytus' Prayer
        The Thirteen Trees
MARIEDA BATTEN (Wellington, New Zealand).
        'Where have I strayed? To some mysterious land.'
        'My child? By living flame my heart is burned.'
PHYLLIS BEBRO (South Africa).
        Silver Trees
H.C. BENNET (Jamaica).
        In September
        To Helen
        In Heaven
        Of an Audience at Widowers' Houses
F.S. BURNELL (Australia).
        Noon (from 'The Feast of Youth')
        Peacock (from 'Perfume of Earth')
        The Scented Hour
ANNIE C. DALTON (vancouver).
        Life and Death
        A Ballad of the Trees
        'I saw you yesterday in green'
        The Water Spirit
        Song in the Street of Image Carvers
ERNEST P. FEWSTER (Vancouver).
        The Voice of Spring
E.M. FRY (Australia).
        Wild Flowers in France
        Soul's Purgatory
        The Blizzard
        The Anemone
        The Token
M.E. HOLLAND (Rhodesia).
        Homeward Bound
        The Life-Guards (Their Toast - The King)
ANNA HOWARTH (South Africa).
        Two Homes
        The Child of the North
        The Comet
        The Empire's Flag
        The Mountain Spirit
A. MacGREGOR JAMES (Jamaica).
        The World's Awakening
        Ambassador of Empire
        Idyll of a West Indian Isle
        Anima Poet�
        The Birthday
        To England ('Daily Mail' Edition)
LENA KENT (Jamaica).
        At the Gate Alone
CYRIL KING (Brooklyn, N.Y.).
        In My Garden
LOREN H.B. KNOX (America - London).
        The Rose
        The Infinite Rain
        After Him who Sang of Bruge
        To Alvin York
JESSIE MacKAY (Christchurch, N.Z.).
        The carol of Kossovo
J.E. CARE MacFARLANE (Jamaica).
        England, how I love Thee
        The Cross of Sacrifice
H.A. MERSON (Jamaica).
        'From out the loneliness in which I creep'
        'How shall I sit in dreamy indolence'
FLORENCE P. MILLER (Newfoundland).
        The Choice
        Autumn Again
ALAN E. MULGAN (New Zealand).
        Grief and Pride
        Pens�es de Picardie
        Hinc Ill� Lachrym�
        Martello Towers
        The Tenor Bell
        Prairie Flowers
W.H. OGILVIE (Australia).
        From the Gulf
D.R. OLIVER (Ontario).
CHARLES OULD (South Africa).
        'Cold are the Kisses of the Moon'
        In memoriam
        A Spring Song
ADI K. SETT (India).
        By Beloved is Dead
        Christus: Noster Dominus
        In Memoriam
A.K. SHARMA (Patiala).
        A Voice disturbs my Peace
        O Soul, Beware
A.M. STEPHEN (Vancouver).
        The Two Flags
J.M. STUART-YOUNG (W. Africa).
        De ol' Banjo
        Amber, Ma Own
        Everybody's T�t�
        The Coaster
        The Teacher
        The Twilight Hour
        To Beauty
        Hail Lanka
N.V. THADANI (Delhi).
        Radha and Krishna
'TROPICA' (Jamaica).
        The Heart of the Island
        On the Road to Blue Mountain Peak
        The Poet of Jamaica
DORA WILCOX (New Zealand).
        A Garden Walled
        The Mother
        Private Smith
        The Yellow Room

POETRY OF TO-DAY - Recommended Books of New Verse.


SOME SONGS OF BILITIS. - S. Fowler Wright.



BIRMINGHAM POETRY. 1923-4 - 2/6 and3/6




First Published 1922. - 3/6 net.

VOICES ON THE WIND. [Second Impression].

An Anthology Of Contemporary Verse By Nearly A Hundred Of The Best Of Our Living Poets

With a Preface by S. Fowler-Wright.


        A second volume of contemporary verse representing the work of nearly a hundred English poets of to-day. It is not representative of any school or clique, and its Editor is entirely indifferent to established reputations. He has contributed a stimulating preface, dealing with the progress which has been made in the emancipation of contemporary poetry, since the first series was published.

FIRST PUBLISHED 1924 - 3/6 and 5/- net.


        These are books which no lover of poetry will be content to miss, and no student of the literature of our own day can afford to disregard the only volumes which endeavour to exhibit its poetic tendencies with impartiality.

Headquarters: Abbey House, London, S.W.1
President: Sir Arthur Quiller Couch, M.A., D. Litt.
Chairman: L.H.B. Knox, Esq.

Miss Lillian Baylis.The Rt. Hon.
Sir Frederick Black, K.C.B.Sir Gilbert Parker Bt., P.C.
Dr. F.S. Boas, LL.D.Mrs. Dorothy Una Ratcliffe
Clive Carey, Esq.Sir Landon Ronald.
The Countess Of Carrick.Mrs. Jopling Rowe, R.A.
Mrs Paterson Cranmer.E. Marston Rudland, Esq.,
W.H. Davies, Esq.Sir Owen Seaman.
Oliver C. de C. Ellis, Esq.Henry Simpson, Esq.,
Capt. Gilbert Frankau.Miss Muriel Stuart.
Miss Rose Fyleman.Miss Sybil Thorndike.
The Hon. Lady Gordon.E. Temple Thurston Esq.,
Sir Sydney Lee.Hugh Walpole, Esq.,
Dr. Habberton Lulham.Israel Zangwill, Esq.
Thomas Moult, Esq. 

Vice-Presidents and Representatives of Colonial Branches:
Dr. L.H. Allen (Duntroon, Australia).
Mrs. Ida M. Cooke (Wellington. N.Z.)
Dr. P.S.G. Dubash (Karachi)
Dr. Ernest Fewster (Vancouver)
D.O.H. Holland, Esq., (South Africa)
Fredoon Kabraji, Esq., (Bombay)
Dr. J.D. Logan (Toronto)
J.E. Clare MacFarlane, Esq. (Jamaica)
Mrs. D.H. Wilcox (Syndney, N.S.W).

Hon. Sec.: Miss Fowler Wright, Abbey House, Westminster, S.W.1.
Hon. Treasurer: Mrs. Hamilton Scott, 9, Queen's Gate Gardens, S.W.7.
Auditors: Messrs. Trevor Davies & Co., Basinghall Street, E.C.

        This league is a fellowship of those who are interested in poetry, and are banded together with a view to extending the love and knowledge of all imaginative literature.

        Full particular's, programmes, &c., can be obtained on application to the Hon. Sec. as above.

Loren H.B. Knox, Chairman.

End of this file.