Reading F. T. Prince

BookReading F. T. Prince

Reading F. T. Prince

Liverpool English Texts and Studies, 67


August 1st, 2021



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F.T. Prince (1912-2003) is now emerging as one of the most distinctive voices of twentieth-century Anglophone poetry. Born in South Africa, he came to England in the 1930s, where he studied alongside Stephen Spender and W.H. Auden. First published by T.S. Eliot, and celebrated in his day by poets as various as Siegfried Sassoon and John Ashbery, his poems have long intrigued readers with their formal experiments, Baroque influences, and intellectual puzzles. During his own lifetime, he found fame with the war poem ‘Soldiers Bathing’ (1942), and was known chiefly as a Milton scholar. However, this collection of specially commissioned essays sheds new light on his achievements and reveals his central place in the story of modern poetry. Enthralled by the canon, yet embraced by the avant-garde, he has influenced poets from Geoffrey Hill to Susan Howe, a unique conduit between modernism and the Movement, British regionalism and American cosmopolitanism. Yet his poetry is not merely of interest for its continuing influence on wider tradition. Subtle, original, and various, F.T. Prince’s poetry asks important questions about power, responsibility, and collective memory.


'Reading F. T. Prince, the first book-length collection of critical responses, emerging from a centenary conference at Southampton University, offers a welcome opportunity for reassessment and celebration [of Prince].'
Tim Dooley, Times Literary Supplement

'Reading F. T.Prince develops something of a consensus about which poems matter most. A good many works are discussed, but only a few recur repeatedly. This is an impressive collection, which helps to make further work possible.'
Sean Pryor, The Review of English Studies

Author Information

Will May is Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Southampton and the author of Stevie Smith and Authorship (Oxford University Press, 2010)

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Part One: Styling Prince21
1 F.T. Prince’s Syllabics23
2 The Intaglio Element in Prince’s Verse39
3 F.T. Prince: Truth in Style63
Part Two: Debts and Legacies87
4 Learned Poetry: F.T. Prince, Milton and the Scholar-Poet89
5 ‘We see all things as they might be’: F.T. Prince and John Ashbery118
6 F.T. Prince’s Overlooked Lustre of Rhetorical Language141
Part Three: Bodies of Knowledge163
7 ‘My soldiers’: F.T. Prince and the Sweetness of Command165
8 ‘The completed story incomplete’: F.T. Prince and the Portrayal of National Bodies177
9 Fugitive Pieces: F.T. Prince and Sculpture193
Selected Bibliography223