Analysis of Poems by Veronica Forrest-Thomson, J .H Prynne & Barry MacSweeney Dissertation

October 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Jan 16th, 2020


Prynne, Barry and Veronica stand out as some of the poets who exhibit or rather demonstrate characteristics of contemporary poets. Although they feature different opinions and styles in their poems, most of their views and poetic works rhyme taking on similar characteristics.

Proponents of these poets commend positively on the different approach and styles the authors have adapted, giving them credit on how they have managed to break the monotony by introduced new styles and ways of writing, which have added value and juice to the field of poetry making it attract many followers (Veronica ‘Levels in Poetic Convention’ 32).

Therefore, poetry is an art that has kept on evolving and changing over the years. The paper provides an outline of a research that seeks to find out whether the contemporary British poetry an old wine packed in a new bottle based on the analysis of poems by Veronica Forrest-Thomson, J.H Prynne and Barry.

A description of British Contemporary Poetry

British poetry has transformed on average although most of the contemporary poets borrow from the views of Elliot upon whom majority looked down. According to Elliot, poetry is not enough and therefore, there is need to incorporate values and beliefs in poems in order to make them better.

Therefore, this has seen most of the contemporary British poets display a sense of form and craft in their poems in order to achieve the best results. The British contemporary poetry features an attempt to ensure mastery of sonnet by the contemporary poets, an attribute that even the traditional poets seemed not good at (Veronica ‘Poetic Artifice’ 12).

Veronica Thomson, Prynne, and Barry, as representatives of prominent contemporary writers deviate from the traditional forms of writing in the field of poetry. Most of their work, though creative and informative, has received some criticism especially on the linguistic or rather their use of language (Veronica ‘Collected Poems’ 240).

Many of the critics claim that their language is jargon therefore hindering clear understanding of the massages intended in their poems (Alison 670). On the other hand, their proponents have commended positively on the different approach and styles the British authors have adapted.

They have given them credit on how they have managed to break the monotony introducing new styles and ways of writing, which have added value and juice to the poetry making the field attract many followers (Veronica ‘Levels in Poetic Convention’ 32). In analysis of the poem by the name “Rites of Hysteria” written by David Gascoyne, Thomson notes that the poem is an example of irrational obscurity.

She points out that the poem does not have clear point of entry or rather some clues to illustrate to the reader that the episode is beginning (Veronica ‘Irrationality and Artifice’ 130). Hence, it is apparent that the contemporary British writers have adapted to different styles to some level.

Chief characteristics

Contemporary British poetry bears a variety of characteristics exhibited in their poems. These characteristics range from themes. Most of the poems themes are hinged on the aspects of social norms and sureties in cultures, dislocation (Vicki 32) or different perspectives of meaning attached to certain activities from their normal contexts, disillusionments, substitution of mythical aspects from the history, and technological changes from the 20 century among others.

Other chief characteristics of these contemporary poems are adoption of intertexuality, classical illusions whereby ideas are borrowed from the traditional poets and reshaped to fit the current scenario (Marjorie ‘The Two Poetries’ 270). There also stands a large number of contemporary poets borrowing ideas from other cultures and using it in their own works (Marjorie ‘Twentieth-Century Poetry’ 294).

Therefore, as it can be seen, the British contemporary poets exhibit several characteristics and it can be argued that contemporary British poetry is like an old wine in a new bottle.

Objective of the Paper

The paper seeks to come up with the answer to the question of whether the British contemporary poetry is an old wine in a new bottle. The paper further unravels this through a keen analysis of poems of some famous contemporary writers like Veronica Forrest-Thomson, J.H Prynne and Barry.

It seeks to find out any correlation between their work and that olden writers based on the criteria they have used to meet their targeted objectives. Most of these contemporary poets achieved their objectives in their poems through employment of imagery, forms, and sounds and by adoption to simple styles. For instance, in Barry’s poem” Horses in boiling Blood, he manages in a systematical way to follow his imaged guesses, interpolations and interpretation which helps him to achieve the objective of conveying his message well (Bernard 20).

Furthermore, in their work, they achieve various objectives by successfully using styles, which strategically drives home for instance the issue of life and love making their work captivating and interesting to the readers (Brian ‘Against interpretation’ 140). They precisely bring out the reality of life and love dwelling on the truth by basing their ideas on what the world experiences (Brian ‘Postmodernist Lyric and the Ontology of Poetry’ 30).

By observing and restricting themselves on the reality rather than illusions in life, the poets represent the true modern poets who contribute towards the adoption of new styles in poetry hence bringing a different perspective of poetry as an art worth loving and cherishing by many people (Matthew 9). Poetry is not about writing but about creativity, the style, observing respect and dignity as well as the adoption of a form that fosters the sharing of information enhancing understandability (Veronica ‘Some Remarks on the Poetry of William Empson’ 233).

Poetry also should demonstrate confidence and truth (Keston 43). As the poets postulate, poems need to use imagery and other forms of styles that convey a message or carry a meaning to the readers in order to meet the objective. Although there might stand some variations in the structure of the poem, it suffices for the poem to grasp the attention of the reader, be enjoyable communicating ideas effectively.


As long as the British contemporary poets boast of adopting new style and taking poetry to another level, they own these to the traditional poets like Pound, Eliot and many others as their predecessors. It proves worth deducing that, although their styles of writing vary, they have higher percentage of resemblance and fall under the contemporary British poets.

Some like Barry, and Raworth although had a high influence on the traditions poets, their writing styles were later influenced by modernist poets hence improved a lot (Laura 180). Unifying factor is that all these authors write poems in a language that enhances understandability and the ideas emanates from the life experiences, political, economic, and social, love and life in general.

There to some extend the British contemporary poetry is like an old wine in a new bottle. They precisely bring out the reality of life and love dwelling on the truth by basing their ideas on what the world experiences (Brian ‘Postmodernist Lyric and the Ontology of Poetry’ 30). Hence, poetry roots of the contemporary British poets rots in the traditional poets.


In its endeavor to answer the key question, the paper employs a certain methodology of analyzing the works based on the different evident styles, themes, influence of science, and their approach on the problem of love and life amongst other parameters. British contemporary poets closely related to the modernists poets: have their work ranging from 1960s to current times.

These poets have done many poems in areas of political, economic and social life of the people in the country (Philip 66). Some of the poems borrow from other cultures and represent the current realities of life. Although some of them are influenced by the tradition poets like Eliot and pound, they have managed to incorporate different forms, styles, and even drifted in their themes to reflect the status of life. They have also managed to adapt to language that is simple and foster understanding of the poems.

An outline of the research program within the topic

The research program consists of a multiplicity of things. First, the research begins by a preliminary gathering and collection of information from the different poems. The information was retrieved from poetry books, journals. Electronic sources also provide a good source of information, which helps in the development, and compilation of this research topic.

The archives on traditional poetry, modernists, and cotemporary British poetry aid in the reaching the observations that are made in this paper. After the gathering of relevant information, framing of relevant and central themes and aspects is documented enlisting the references from where the idea comes.

Therefore, the outline of the research topic remains useful through out the research program as it aids the researcher in reaching the objectives set and providing a concrete conclusion about his topic of whether the British contemporary poets is an old wine in a new bottle.

Works Cited

Alison, Mark. Veronica Forrest-Thomson: Toward a Linguistically Investigative Poetics. Poetics Today 20.4 (1999): 655-672.

Bernard, Bergonzi. The Poetry of G.S. Fraser. Critical Quarterly 24.1 (1982): 19-24.

Brian, McHale. Against interpretation: Iconic Grammar, Anxiety of Influence, And Poetic Artifice. Poetics Today 3.1 (1982): 141-158.

Brian, McHale. Postmodernist Lyric and the Ontology of Poetry. Poetics Today 8.1 (1987). 19-44.

Keston, Niel. Six Essays on VFT, 2009. Web.

Laura, Hinton. Centering Margins: The Language Poets Reconsidered (As Women). Contemporary Literature 41.1 (2000). 180-188.

Marjorie, Perloff. The Two Poetries: An Introduction. Contemporary Literature 18.3 (1977): 263-278.

Marjorie, Perloff. Twentieth-Century Poetry. Contemporary Literature 21.2 (1980): 291-296.

Matthew, Hall. Wound Response, Tacit Knowledge and Residual Reading: Dissecting Matrices of Information in J.H. Prynne’s Late Modernist Poetry. The Poetic Front 3 (2010): 1-10.

Philip, Stine. Biblical Poetry and Translation. Meta. Translators’ Journal 32.1 (1987): 64-75.

Veronica, Thomson. Collected Poems. London: Shearsman Books, 2008.

Veronica, Thomson. Poetic Artifice: A Theory of Twentieth-Century Poetry. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1978.

Veronica, Thomson. Some Remarks on the Poetry of William Empson. The yearbook of English Studies 4 (1974): 225-238.

Veronica, Thomson. Levels in Poetic Convention. Journal of European Studies 2.35 (1972): 30-51.

Veronica, Thomson. Irrationality and Artifice: A problem in Recent Poetics. British Journal of Aesthetics 11.2 (1971): 123-133.

Vicki, Bertram. Kicking Daffodils: Twentieth-Century Women Poets. Scotland: Edinburgh University Press. 1977. Print.

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