Lawrence was sure what 1918 needed from its poets: "in free verse we look for the insurgent naked throb of the instant moment" ("Poetry of the Present"). Juicy though this sounds, the "throb" was not a birth-pang but, like several other arty ideals of the the early twentieth century, an echo of Pater's The Renaissance, which fifty years before Lawrence's "Present" had ended with the assurance that "art comes to you professing a frankly to give nothing but the highest quality to your moments as they pass, and simply for those moments' sake". People who profess to be speaking "frankly" are usually deceiving at least themselves and often trying to deceive others too. As Eliot noted in his essay on Baudelaire, Pater may have imagined he was illustrating the doctrine of Art for Art's sake, whereas he was "expounding it as a theory of life, which is not the same thing at all. — Eric Griffiths, TLS May 14, 2010, p. 5.

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Victorian Web Overview Walter Pater

Last modified 15 November 2005