As a genre of poetry, the country house poem was born in the seventeenth century. As English country house society itself grew in prominence, the poem of commemoration diminished in popularity; not until the Edwardian era, when the country house as an institution began to wane, was there a renewed interest in country house poetry. As the power and influence of landed society dwindled, the country house began to haunt the English literary imagination, and our poets found in its dereliction a frequent subject and theme. This is the first book to gather modern and contemporary country house poems into one collection. Poets representing a diversity of class, race, gender, and generation offer a wide variety of perspectives: stately exteriors and interiors, crumbling ruins, gardens both wild and cultivated, and the voices of noble owners, servants, and curious visitors. The dominant note sounded is perhaps unsurprisingly elegiac, yet comic, satiric, and gothic tones appear frequently as well. The common thread is that, in response to the rapid sociological changes of the twentieth century, poets reflect on the country house as an architecturally, politically, socially, and economically potent symbol and institution, both in its heyday and in its eclipse. The book is illustrated by Rosie Greening.
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