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Lascelles Abercrombie (1881–1938) was an English poet and literary critic, part of the Georgian poets who were active before the First World War and into the 1920s. Abercrombie's work is often characterized by its use of dramatic monologue and a strong, rhythmic language, and while he is less well-known than some of his contemporaries, his contribution to the poetic tradition of the early 20th century is noteworthy.

Literary Background and Early Influences

Born in Ashton upon Mersey, Cheshire, Abercrombie was educated at Malvern College and later at Victoria University of Manchester. His formative years saw the tail end of the Victorian era and the dawn of modernism, but Abercrombie's work stayed largely within the traditional bounds of poetry. His poetry was firmly rooted in the Georgian poetry movement, which reacted against the perceived decadence of the 1890s and often looked back to simpler, more direct forms of expression. Georgian poetry, named after the reign of King George V, was part of a broader cultural shift that looked to nature and the English countryside for inspiration, an idyll that would soon be shattered by the advent of World War I.

Poetic Schools or Movements

The Georgian poets sought to return to a Wordsworthian clarity and simplicity. Abercrombie and his peers, including Rupert Brooke, John Masefield, and Walter de la Mare, among others, aimed to capture the peace and pastoral beauty of the English countryside. They shared a distrust of the modern world's industrialization and urbanization.

Poetic Oeuvre: Phases and Themes

Abercrombie's work is known for its formal control and often philosophic content. His poems deal with a range of themes, from the nature of beauty and the role of poetry to personal and mythical narratives. His work includes the use of dramatic monologues, a form that allows for the exploration of character and psychological depth.

His 1914 collection "Interludes and Poems" contained some of his best-known work, and his long poetic drama "Deborah" was also highly regarded at the time. "Emblems of Love" and "The Sale of St. Thomas," a poetic drama, are also notable works that reflect his typical preoccupations with love, spirituality, and morality.

Influence and Honors

While Abercrombie never achieved the lasting fame of some of his contemporaries, his work was respected by his peers, and he was influential in literary circles as a critic and lecturer. He held the position of Professor of English at the University of Leeds and later at the University of London, and he was awarded a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1922.


Lascelles Abercrombie's legacy lies in his poetic exploration of the interplay between natural beauty, human experience, and philosophical inquiry. His engagement with traditional forms and his part in the Georgian poetry movement represent an important, if understated, chapter in the development of English literature in the early 20th century. His work captures the spirit of a moment in time when poetry grappled with the imminent changes of the modern world while longing for the certainties of a disappearing pastoral and spiritual landscape.

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