They were not a literary group. Nor had they come up with a manifesto for their inspiration or purpose in Literature (unless we count the magazine “New Numbers“, which would feature works by some of the Dymock poets, an unconventional manifesto). However, despite not being mentioned often in 20th century English literature, the Dymock Poets help us understand more about that time in literary history when the Victorian way was too outdated and Modernism was not ready to burst onto the literary scene just yet.
Moreover, given the period of activity, which goes from 1911 to 1914, it is easily understandable why some of these artists have been overlooked or overshadowed. The most popular Dymock poet was without a doubt Ruper Brooke, who is also one of the most prominent Soldier poets and is also often referenced as a Georgian poet. Too many labels, too many categories. In fact, ‘Soldier poet‘ or ‘Georgian‘ are widely accepted terms in the perspective of the study of Literature, giving a national and/or historical perspective to this author’s works, whereas ‘Dymock Poet‘ is perhaps a third and redundant option to define Brooke. It was perhaps because of the first two labels being overused that the other Dymock Poets have not had a chance to be discovered and studied for years, let alone acknowledged as members of a such undefinable group.
The village of Dymock in Gloucestershire, near to the border with Herefordshire, was the home of the so called group. The Old Nail shop, which Wilfrid Wilson Gibson mentions in his poem “The Golden Room” is thought to be the place of gathering of the artists who, in one way or another, lived or spent a lot of time in Dymock. What makes the Dymock Poets so peculiar is that they capture the feeling of a decadent Edwardian lifestyle. The war was imminent, and it would have changed their lives forever: Robert Frost returned to America in 1915, Edward Thomas and Rupert Brooke were respectively killed in action and hit with Sepsi. Yes, they are categorised as ‘Georgian‘ and some of them are ‘Soldier Poets‘ but what were the main features that solely belonged to the Dymock group? Hard to find ones. Researchers even tend to doubt that the Dymock Poets ever existed as a group, as it seemed to be constituted by poets who would come and go from Dymock quite often, with some of them staying shortly in one or two occasions. Brooke’s involvement with Dymock is also often questioned as there is no evidence of his presence and participation with the group, although he had frequent contacts and meetings with a few of them overtime.
Apparently, it was Lascelles Abercrombie who was the heart of the supposed group and kept it together for as long as possible. Even during wartime, he was the one collecting poems from his fellow poets at the front and kept a tight correspondence with those who could not be in Gloucestershire after the breakout of the War. There is no doubt that, as a concept, rather than a retrospective term per se, the Dymock Poets were an important and essential point of reference within the course of literature which wants to generally brand them as Georgians. It seems more sensible to consider Dymock the pivot on which Georgian intellectuals of the period turned. Nothing more, nothing less.