Richard Aldington

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(The Richard Aldington Newsletter)


Vol. 42, No. 1                  Spring 2014

Editor: Andrew Frayn, English and American Studies, Samuel Alexander Building, University of Manchester,
Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL. UK. E-mail:

Associate Editor: Justin Kishbaugh, Department of English, Duquesne University, 600 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15282  USA

RA and H.D. Website:
Correspondent and website editor: Paul Hernandez
Correspondents: Michael Copp, Simon Hewett, Stephen Steele, F.-J. Temple, Caroline Zilboorg.
Bibliographer: Shelley Cox. Biographers: Charles Doyle, Vivien Whelpton.

We have recently acquired a couple of new NCLS members.


Dr Rob Hawkes is Lecturer in English Studies at the University of Teesside. He comes to RA via Ford Madox Ford, whose work he has been researching for the last decade. He is particularly interested in Death of a Hero (which, of course, includes a parodic version of Ford) and discusses Aldington's novel in his book, Ford Madox Ford and the Misfit Moderns (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012). Like Ford, he sees Aldington as a misfit modern whose reception has suffered as a result of not quite, or not always, fitting in with prevailing notions of literary modernism.


Dr Nathan Waddell is a Lecturer in the School of English at the University of Nottingham, where he teaches and researches twentieth-century literature and culture. He is specifically interested in the political dimensions of Aldington’s work; Aldington’s connections with the avant-garde circles of London before, during, and after the First World War; and the ‘musicality’ of Death of a Hero.



The Editor and Waddell will speak at a panel at The Music of War: 1914-1918, a conference at the British Library.  Frayn’s paper will discuss Death of a Hero alongside A. T. Fitzroy (Rose Laure Allatini)’s Despised and Rejected, examining the ways music and its terminology is used to render what is deemed verbally incommunicable.




NCLS Member Adrian Barlow has posted his latest blog, On The Waggoner, about a post-World War 1 collection of poems by Edmund Blunden that he believes deserves to be better known [Blunden, it's worth noting, reviewed RA's Death of a Hero for the Times Literary Supplement – Ed.]. This is likely to be the first of a number of posts this year dealing directly or obliquely with the Great War centenary; he has subsequently written 'In defence of the War Poets', and on David Lodge. Barlow has also started to write a regular blog about his researches into the stained glass of Charles Eamer Kempe; if this is of interest you'll find it on the Kempe Trust website.


Links (CTRL+click):   Adrian Barlow's personal webpage and blog; The Kempe Trust




Correspondent Michael Copp notes that an article in the Times Literary Supplement of 17January 2014, 'Resentment on the Menu: Poets of the Peacock Dinner', by Lucy McDiarmid, will be of interest to all recipients of the Newsletter. McDiarmid marks the 100th anniversary of this remarkable event and of the famous photograph that recorded the poets' encounter by examining all the frictions, needlings and jockeyings for status and supremacy among the participants. She concludes by saying: '. . . the photograph [. . .] keeps alive the faces of the all-but-forgotten as well as of the famous: it freezes the moment, one hundred years ago, when the seven male poets stood in their symmetrical arrangement, together and apart.'



Correspondent Michael Copp reports that in their Spring 1914 catalogue Clearwater Books (email: list a copy of RA's Images (1910-1915) at £75.




Correspondent Stephen Steele notes that Robert Creeley mentions Aldington in relation to an impending visit and also in connection to Lawrence, in his letter to Denise Levertov, dated October 3, 1951. See The Selected Letters of Robert Creeley, ed. Rod Smith, Peter Baker and Kaplan Harris (Berkeley: UC Press, 2014), pp. 77-81 (p. 78).




Associate Editor Justin Kishbaugh communicates the following report: The State University of New York at New Paltz held a "Book Celebration and Discussion" on Wednesday, March 12 for the recently released collection, Imagism: Essays on Its Initiation, Impact and Influence. The event featured a panel consisting of the books editors, John Gery, Daniel Kempton, and H. R. Stoneback, and contributors, Ian S. MacNiven, Brad McDuffie, and Roy Verspoor.


The conversations were lively and the event was an overall success. Those present were also privileged to hear John Gery read selections from his new book of poetry Have at You Now! and a work in progress.



The Editor is pleased to report receipt of Vivien Whelpton's new biography of RA, published by the Lutterworth Press.  The Press also publishes Correspondent Michael Copp's Imagist Dialogues; you can order both volumes via their website.


I remind you all that Whelpton invites readers of the NCLSN to write to the editors with their responses to the volume; she hopes that it might provoke some debate for these pages.  You can also contact her directly via her website,


An initial reading reveals that the volume is impressively thoroughly researched, and will be valuable for Aldingtonians not least for the wealth of archival material made available by quotation for the first time in print.  A full review is forthcoming in the next issue of the newsletter.


Aldington’s War Poems in Anthologies: a Survey


How well is Aldington represented in nearly a century of anthologies of the poets of the First World War? Which poems have been chosen? What might explain these choices? These questions occurred to me on coming across one of the latest anthologies, Tim Kendall’s Poetry of the First World War (O.U.P., 2013). Surprisingly, this otherwise exemplary edition contains no poems by Aldington, as well as none by T.E. Hulme, Herbert Read, or Frederic Manning – these are serious omissions. In his Introduction Kendall writes: ‘. . . the only Modernist soldier-poet of any note, David Jones, . . .’. Yet the jacket illustration (one of the most severely geometric of C.R.W. Nevinson’s wartime Futurist paintings, ‘The First Searchlights at Charing Cross’) leads one to expect a rather better modernist representation among the poets chosen.

            Guided by Catherine Reilly’s compendious English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography (George Prior, 1978), I found that there are seven anthologies of the inter-war years that include poems by Aldington (I am discounting the Imagist anthologies).

            The first anthology is John William Cunliffe’s Poems of the Great War (1916). Given this early date it is not surprising to find that the canonical poets are largely absent or that the overall quality is extremely low. Sadly, Aldington is represented by just one very unsatisfactory poem, ‘War Yawp’, which had appeared in Poetry: A Magazine of Verse in November 1914. What possessed Harriet Monroe to choose this poem? I made a conscious decision to omit it from my An Imagist at War. It deserves its oblivion. 

            The second is Bertram Lloyd’s The Paths of Glory: a Collection of Poems written during the War, 1914-1918 (1919). This is a considerable improvement, with contributions from Siegfried Sassoon and Herbert Read. Lloyd’s choice is ‘In the Trenches’ from Images of War (1919).

            The third is Marguerite Wilkinson’s New Voices: an Introduction to Contemporary Poetry (1919). Her choice is ‘Dawn’.

            The fourth is Sterling Andrus Leonard’s Poems of the War and the Peace (1921). His choices are interesting ones: ‘’The Faun Complains’, ‘Barrage’, ‘In the Trenches’ and ‘A Young Tree’.

            The fifth is Jacqueline Trotter’s Valour and Vision: Poems of the War (1923). She chose ‘In the Trenches’.

            The sixth is Frederick Brereton’s An Anthology of War Poems (1930). His choices are four particularly strong poems: ‘Bombardment’, ‘Barrage’, ‘Machine-Guns’ and ‘A Moment’s Interlude’.

            The last one to be published before the Second World War is J.C. Squire’s Younger Poets of To-day (1932). He has just one Aldington poem, ‘In Memory of Wilfred Owen’.

            Three of the above are American: Cunliffe, Wilkinson and Leonard. The other four are British. It is also noteworthy that two of these early anthologisers are women.

            These seven anthologies give ten different poems, with only ‘In the Trenches’ (3), and ‘Barrage’ (2), featuring more than once.

            In the years since the Second World War I have identified thirteen anthologies, published between 1964 and 2014, that include examples of Aldington’s war poetry. This list is unlikely to be a complete one.

            It was in the 1960s that the war poets began to be widely taught as part of the English Literature curriculum in secondary schools in England. Three significant anthologies appeared in this decade, each giving Aldington a prominent place.

            The first is Brian Gardner’s Up the Line to Death: The War Poets 1914-18 (1964). He chose ‘Field Manoeuvres’, ‘Bombardment’ and ‘Sunsets’.

            The second is I.M. Parsons’ Men who March Away: Poems of the First World War (1965). Aldington is strongly represented by ‘’Bombardment’, ‘Battlefield’, ‘In the Trenches’ and ‘Soliloquy II’.

            The third is Maurice Hussey’s Poetry of the First World War: an Anthology (1967). This is almost certainly the first anthology of war poetry specifically aimed at a student readership. It includes ‘In the Trenches’, ‘Soliloquy I’, ‘Soliloquy II’ and ‘Reserve’.

            The fourth is Jon Silkin’s The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry (1979) which contains ‘Field Manoeuvres: Outpost Duty’, ‘In the Trenches’, ‘Trench idyll’ and ‘Resentment’.

            The fifth is Edward Black’s 1914-18 in Poetry (1980) with ‘Bombardment’.

            The sixth is Poetry of the Great War: An Anthology (1986), edited by Dominic Hibberd & John Onions. Their choices are ‘Machine-Guns’, ‘Concert’ and ‘Reserve’.

            The seventh is Martin Taylor’s Lads: Love Poetry of the Trenches (1989) which contains five poems: ‘Soliloquy I’, ‘Reserve’, ‘Epilogue’, ‘Concert’ and ‘Epilogue to Death of a Hero’.

            The eighth is Maurice Clapham’s The Wordsworth Book of First World War Poetry (1995) with just one poem, ‘Bombardment’.

            The ninth is Adrian Barlow’s Six Poets of the Great War (1995) with the most generous selection of fourteen poems: ‘Sunsets’, ‘Soliloquy I’, ‘Soliloquy II’, ‘Picket’, ‘Bombardment’, ‘Living Sepulchres’, ‘Reserve’, ‘Trench Idyll’, ‘In the Trenches’, ‘Meditation’, ‘In the Palace Garden’, ‘Eumenides’, ‘Epilogue to Death of a Hero’ and ‘In Memory of Wilfred Owen’.

            The tenth is Poetry of the First World War (2004) by Peter Harness with ‘The Lover’ and ‘Bombardment’.

            The eleventh is George Walter’s The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry (2006) with ‘Bombardment’ and ‘Soliloquy II’.

            The twelfth is The Winter of the World: Poems of the First World War (2007), a second anthology by Dominic Hibberd and John Onions, but with a slightly different selection this time: ‘Concert’, ‘The Last Salute’ and ‘Trench Idyll’.

            The thirteenth is Poems of the Great War: an Anthology 1814-1918 (2014) edited by Christopher Navratil. This Running Press miniature edition contains ‘Bombardment’.

            These anthologies follow one of the three basic organising ideas for such collections: either a chronological survey, year by year; or a thematic approach; or a sequence of poets and their poems in no particular order. It seems to me that by far the best of the four anthologies published in the twentieth century is the one by Hibberd & Onions (2007). First, by following the chronological model they are able to trace how poetry developed throughout the war years. Second, there are no significant omissions (as there most surely are in Kendall). The ‘older school’ poets are represented (e.g.: Hardy and Kipling), as are the Georgians, the Imagists (including F.S. Flint), a number of women poets, the canonical poets, and a judicious choice of less well-known names.

            So, counting the poems in all nineteen anthologies, we find that the most frequently occurring poems are: ‘Bombardment’ (9), ‘In the Trenches’ (6), ‘Reserve’ (4), ‘Soliloquy II’ (4), ‘Soliloquy I’ (3), ‘Trench Idyll’ (3), and ‘Concert’ (3). Five poems appear twice: ‘Machine-Guns’, ‘Field Manoeuvres: Outpost Duty’, ‘Sunsets’, ‘Epilogue to Death of a Hero, and ‘Barrage’. A further seventeen poems appear just once.

            Finally, I was interested to note that none of these anthologies contains an example of Aldington’s experiments with the prose poem. My An Imagist at War contains seventeen examples. I think a case could be made for, say, ‘Our Hands’ or ‘Stand-To’ or ‘Landscape’. Why not?