Hottentot in Jackboots

John Bayley

  • Poetry and Politics in the Cockney School by Jeffrey Cox
    Cambridge, 287 pp, £37.50, January 1999, ISBN 0 521 63100 9

The Politicisation of poetry can sometimes bring back to vivid life the poet’s original outlook and preconceptions: it can also misunderstand them. A poem that comes off, and takes off, does so in terms of its own language, irrespective of ideological impulses and overtones. Time, as Auden observed,

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[*] The essay appears in The Persistence of Poetry: Bicentennial Essays on Keats, edited by Robert Ryan and Ronald Sharp (Massachusetts, 223 pp., £27, 8 November 1998, 155849 175 9).