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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: October 2019

Chapter 4 - The Time of W.E. Henley: ‘Minor Poetry’ and the 1880s


As the long shadow of Tennyson began to retreat in the 1880s, poetry found itself without clear directions for form or content. The temporality of the decade is a kind of anti-teleological anticipation--poets felt that something new needed to happen, but what that advent was remained unspecified. These conditions left a space for ‘minor poetry’, a term that implies not a position on a scale of value but a field of innovation and experimentation. This chapter first surveys the way this shifting ground is captured in anthologies, and discusses how the poetry of the decade resists easy capture in literary history. It then goes on to explore how the temporality of the 1880s is reflected in W. E. Henley’s ‘In Hospital’ sequence of lyric poems.

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