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This article is taken from Poetry Nation 6 Number 6, 1976.

Roy Fuller: 'In the Paralysis of Class' Eric Homberger


Poems, Roy Fuller's first book, was published in 1939. Later, speaking at Oxford on 'Poetic Memories of the Thirties', he recalled his ambition as a young poet:

It's hard indeed to recover one's attitude to the spate of poetry in which one was so completely immersed. But certainly at the start of the period one disapproved of the public school and university chumminess that sometimes accompanied the leftwing poetry. And at the end of the period one disapproved even more of the personal romanticism and reckless obscurity represented by one side of Dylan Thomas's verse. One was searching, hopelessly it seems now, for a poetry with impeccable political orientation, yet as rich and free as the great English poetry of the past. 1


In the late 1920s Fuller bought, and read, Ezra Pound's Selected Poems, and T.S. Eliot's Poems 1909-1925. A chance meeting with John Davenport introduced him to early Empson in Cambridge Poetry 1929, to Auden's Poems of 1930, and to Spender, who had five poems in Oxford Poetry 1930. It was a good moment to begin an education in poetry 2. From Auden, as from a schoolboy hero, Fuller wrote, 'one took a tone of voice, catchphrases, beliefs - the very cut of one's poetic personality' 3. Fuller's early poems are exercises in the Audenesque, with the tone, scenery, symbolism and use of scientific and technological metaphors bearing witness to the dominant style of the age. He was a fellow-travelling solicitor, ...


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