Donald Alfred Davie
was an English Movement poet, and literary critic. His poems in general are philosophical and abstract, but often evoke various landscapes.
Davie was born in Barnsley
Barnsley is a town in South Yorkshire, England. It lies on the River Dearne, north of the city of Sheffield, south of Leeds and west of Doncaster. Barnsley is surrounded by several smaller settlements which together form the Metropolitan Borough of Barnsley, of which Barnsley is the largest and...
, Yorkshire, England, a son of Baptist parents. He began his education at Barnsley Hogate Grammar school, and he later attended St. Catharine's College
St. Catharine’s College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. Founded in 1473, the college is often referred to informally by the nickname "Catz".-History:...
, in Cambridge. His studies there were interrupted by service during the war in the Royal Navy in Arctic Russia, where he taught himself the language. In the last year of the war, in Devon, he married Doreen John. After returning to Cambridge, he continued his studies and received his B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. He returned to Cambridge in 1958, and in 1964 was made the first Professor of English at the new University of Essex. He taught English at the University of Essex
The University of Essex is a British campus university whose original and largest campus is near the town of Colchester, England. Established in 1963 and receiving its Royal Charter in 1965...
from 1964 until 1968, when he moved to Stanford University, where he succeeded Yvor Winters
Arthur Yvor Winters was an American poet and literary critic.-As modernist:Winters's early poetry, which appeared in small avant-garde magazines alongside work by writers like James Joyce and Gertrude Stein, was written in the modernist idiom, and was heavily influenced both by Native American...
. In 1978, he relocated to Vanderbilt University
Vanderbilt University is a private research university located in Nashville, Tennessee, United States. Founded in 1873, the university is named for shipping and rail magnate "Commodore" Cornelius Vanderbilt, who provided Vanderbilt its initial $1 million endowment despite having never been to the...
, where he taught until his retirement in 1988.
He often wrote on the technique of poetry, both in books such as Purity of Diction in English Verse
Purity of Diction in English Verse was written by Donald Davie and first published by Chatto and Windus in 1952. It was Davie's first book, and was followed three years later by a sequel: Articulate Energy. In 1992 Penguin published both books together in a single volume with a new foreword.The...
, and in smaller articles such as 'Some Notes on Rhythm in Verse
Some Notes on Rhythm in Verse by Donald Davie first appeared in Agenda Poetry, in the Autumn / Winter issue 1972–73, and was later collected in his book of essays and interviews, Trying To Explain....
'. Davie's criticism and poetry are both characterized by his interest in modernist and pre-modernist techniques. 'Davie claimed ‘there is no necessary connection between the poetic vocation on the one hand, and on the other exhibitionism, egoism, and licence'. He writes eloquently and sympathetically about British modernist poetry in Under Briggflatts
, while in Thomas Hardy and British Poetry
he defends a pre-modernist verse tradition. Much of Davie's poetry has been compared to that of the traditionalist Philip Larkin
Philip Arthur Larkin, CH, CBE, FRSL is widely regarded as one of the great English poets of the latter half of the twentieth century...
, but other works are more influenced by Ezra Pound
Ezra Weston Loomis Pound was an American expatriate poet and critic and a major figure in the early modernist movement in poetry...
. He is featured in the Oxford Book of Contemporary Verse
The Oxford Book of Contemporary Verse, edited by D. J. Enright, is a poetry anthology from 1980, published by Oxford University Press. It might be considered one of the 'last words' from a founder-member of The Movement, with its comments in the Introduction still in an anti-romantic vein, and that...
- A Winter Talent and other poems (Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1957)
- Events & Wisdoms (Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1964)
- In the Stopping Train and other poems (Carcanet Press, 1977)
- Selected Poems (Carcanet Press, 1985)
- Trying To Explain (Carcanet Press, 1986)
- To Scorch Or Freeze (Carcanet Press, 1988)
- Under Briggflatts (Carcanet Press, 1989)
- Slavic Excursions (Carcanet Press, 1990)
- These the Companions (Carcanet Press, 1990)
- Ezra Pound (Carcanet Press, 1991)
- Older Masters (Carcanet Press, 1992)
- Purity of Diction In English Verse and Articulate Energy (Carcanet Press, 1994)
- Church Chapel and the Unitarian Conspiracy (Carcanet Press, 1995)
- Poems & Melodramas (Carcanet Press, 1996)
- With The Grain: Essays On Thomas Hardy and British Poetry (Carcanet Press, 1998)
- Two Ways Out Of Whitman:American Essays (Carcanet Press, 2000)
- Collected Poems (Carcanet Press, 2002)
- A Travelling Man: Eighteenth Century Bearings(Carcanet Press, 2003)
- Modernist Essays(Carcanet Press, 2004)
- Purity of Diction In English Verse and Articulate Energy (Carcanet Press, 2006)