Cecil Day-Lewis - the creative process

9th October 2017


A selection of prose by Wadham alumnus C. Day-Lewis is published in a new book co-edited by Emeritus Fellow Bernard O’Donoghue.

C.Day Lewis: The Golden Bridle provides a fascinating insight into the development and standing of a major figure in British poetry, revealing the scope and range of Day-Lewis's vital engagement with English life and letters.

Cecil Day-Lewis (1904-72), former poet laureate and Oxford professor of poetry, published more than twenty volumes of poetry in his lifetime.

The book contains essays and lectures on particular poets who were important for Day-Lewis's poetry including Gerard Manley Hopkins, George Meredith, Thomas Hardy, W. B. Yeats, Robert Frost, Wilfred Owen, W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender, and Louis MacNeice

C. Day-Lewis was a major figure in British poetry and culture from the 1930s until his death in 1972. The Golden Bridle: Selected Prose takes its title from the myth of Bellerophon and the golden bridle of Pegasus, which Day-Lewis invoked on several occasions as a metaphor for the creative process. Day-Lewis as poet is, then, the organizing idea of this anthology, and the selections indicate the scope and range of his vital engagement with English life and letters.

Organised into four parts, the volume illustrates Day-Lewis's reflections on the role and function of poetry in society and culture; the creative process and the workings of the imagination as well as the nature of poetic truth and its relation to science; poets who were of particular importance to Day-Lewis; and the poetic process in relation to the composition of several of his own poems. The notes indicate the particular source, circumstances, and central issues of each piece, to provide a brief intellectual biography and critical account of this eminent poet's development and standing.

The book is edited by Albert Gelpi, William Robertson Coe Professor of American Literature, Emeritus at Stanford University, and Wadham’s Bernard O'Donoghue. Bernard taught Medieval English and Modern Irish Poetry at Wadham. He has published six collections of poetry, including Gunpowder, winner of the 1995 Whitbread Prize for Poetry, and Farmers Cross (2011) which was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot prize. His Selected Poems was published by Faber in 2008. He has published a verse translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Penguin Classics 2006), and his most recent volume The Seasons of Cullen Church was published by Faber in 2016.

Bernard O'Donaghue