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 The Scent That Captures That "1930s Moment"!

All material copyrighted to © 2014

or to the various credited sources © 2014



In this current climate of mock-homology, of cynical

Construction of a common sacrificial mythology

Through mass shadow-projection of a soul-howling hunger

Born from our material addictions –that can never

Nourish us, but only feed our cravings for more morsels

Of synthetic comestibles, commodities which merely

Prolong our appetites (we Tantluses always grasping

For ever-lifting fruits of hire purchase)– onto scapegoats

Of the disadvantaged, our grotty little compromise

Of a country is a germinal for scroungermongering

(Our cultural curriculum oiled on Scroungerology –

Perfect complement to a mulish island mentality)

And various DEVON VIOLET leitmotivs –“We’re all in

This together”, “do the right thing”, “roll up our sleeves”,

“Fairness”, “make work pay”, “skivers and strivers”,

“Shirkers and workers”, “cultures of idleness”, “sense

Of entitlement”, “something-for-nothing”, “curtains shut

During the day”, “mugging the taxpayer”, “parasites”,

“Spongers”, “moral degenerates”, “scroungers” (courtesy

Of Desmond and Dacre’s weekly pilfering of Thirties’

Eugenics lexicon and choicest dysphemisms from

The mothballed mouth of Fascism –on one inarticulate

Occasion, crystalised in the writerly prism of a Malthusian

Diatribe, with a stigmatising sting, on the moral baseness

Of benefit claimants, by cloister-voiced A.N. Wilson in

The iron-wrought ink of the Daily Mailthusian) –a whole

New genealogy of disingenuous adjectives designed

To separate the wheat from the chaff, the NEET from the CHAV,

The “need” from “entitlement”, the “heating” from “eating”,

The “earn” from “learn”, the light from Enlightenment

Draws the dividing lines in the rhetorical dirt, the grids

Of variegating gradations of human demarcation (since,

As educationalist and amateur phrenologist Dominic

Cummings currently moots, ‘genetics’ more than teaching

Determines a child’s intellectual development, and beyond

That, the rest is up to adaptation a la Social Darwinism);

It might also be time to take stock of that which scholar Samuel

Hynes, in his 1976 retrospective on Thirties’ literature,

The Auden Generation, termed the ‘Myth of the Thirties’:

For it was a time when, indisputably, ‘the world of action

And the world of imagination’ came to ‘interpenetrate’;

Yet not a decade as clear-cut in terms of dialectic as some

Of the more hagiographic Marxist historians might have us

Half-believe, but a period of flux in which the British Left

Had yet to fully fructify, define itself or its position…



The Thirties was also a period of poetic preponderance

On the burgeoning burden of a Guilty Generation and

Its prehensile apprehension, its static anticipation

Of an approaching apocalypse of composure, an ash-

Catastrophe at the fag-end of hiatus, a Moment when

Poetry and politics, art and action, would converge, become

Symbiotically one… Such hopeful projections gushed

Donnishly from the graduate pen of one Wystan Hugh

Auden, whose Nordic-sounding surname bespoke Icelandic

Ancestors cut out from black Gabbro crags of his fanciful

Imagination; by the mid-Thirties, he penned to his

Collegial friend, Christopher Isherwood, a polemical

Birthday poem in which he augmented his private anguishing

In ‘The squalid shadow of academy and garden’ as to

Some guiding light to ignite their self-beleaguered generation,

To ‘Make action urgent and its nature clear’; and here the young

Oxford-finished hope of Rookhope (his “sacred landscape”)

Would see his name leased out to a mystic meta-terrain,

Which he termed a ‘fabulous country’ –a truly fabular

Landscape– but which came to be commonly canonised

As “Auden Country”: a parabolic county sprawled

Somewhere between the Midlands and the Home Counties,

Or, figuratively speaking, ‘Between the idea/ And

The reality/ Between the motion/ And the act’, where falls

The Eliotic shadow of hollower realms shocked with reticent

Corn of moral doubt, indecision, hesitation, and self-

Prickling cacti of ‘Sin’-preceding Kierkegaardian angst;

A metaphorical territory without frontiers or turrets

Between literature and enactment, one rinsed of Cartesian

Cadastrals scattered like patchworks across partitioned pastures

Warped by one-upmanship, class distinctions, neuroticism

And grimacing scarecrows, leafless winter hedgerows

Cauterising essential seams that once stitched together old

Gnarled bedfellows of private art and public action; sprouted

Lustrous trees of self-expression branching with rich scrolling

Foliage of socialism –where now grow only knotted stumps…

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