Lecture 3: Children of Albion

Part 1Paper 4: English Literature and its Contexts 1830-Present. 

(2.4.9) Countercultural Writing 1950-1999

Dr. James Riley

Lecture 3 Children of Albion: Michael Horovitz and Harry Fainlight
Children of Albion: Poetry of the ‘Underground’ in Britain (Penguin, 1969).


1. Children of Albion
2. Michael Horovitz: ‘Spring Welcomes You to London (1965)
                                Soho Awakening’ (1965)
3. Harry Fainlight: ‘Larksong’ (1964)

Underground: “Of or pertaining to a subculture which seeks to provide radical alternatives to the socially accepted or established mode; spec. manifested in its literature, music, press, etc.” (OED).

The Wild Hawthorn Press bloomed in Edinburgh, whilst Lee Harwood travelled through Night Scene, Night Train, Soho, Horde, Darazt & Tzarad. Poetmeat sprang up – with Screeches for Sounding in Blackburn, Dust was raised in Leeds, a Phoenix in Liverpool, Outburst in Hackney, New Voice in Kent; Migrant from Worcester – Move from Preston – Eleventh Finger from Brighton – Origins / Diversions from Carshalton – Whisper & shout from Derby … The Resuscitator in Wessex!
                                                       ----(Michael Horovitz, ‘Afterwords’ in Children of Albion, p. 325.).

The aural, visual and situational elements combine with the unpredictable interaction between manifold performers and auditors to throw up a theatre on the spot – transcending the old form of theatre because what is happening is really happening!
                                                       ----(Horovitz, ‘Afterwords’, p.328).

Invocation key:

Sigmatic (Sigma) ----- Alexander Trocchi ----- Network
New Departures ----- Horovitz ----- Magazine/ Events
Residu ---- Dan Richter ---- Magazine
Better Books ---- Bob Cobbing / Barry Miles --- Book shop
Moving Times ---- Trocchi ---- Sigma newspaper / magazine
New Directions ----- James Laughlin ---- Publisher
City Lights ----- Lawrence Ferlinghetti ---- Publisher 
Olympian (Olympia) ----- Maurice Girodias ----- Publisher

England! awake! awake! awake!
            Jerusalem thy Sister calls!
Why wilt thou sleep the sleep of death,
            And close her from thy ancient walls?

Thy hills &valleys felt her feet,
            Gently upon their bosoms move:
Thy gates beheld sweet Zion’s ways:
            Then was a time of love.

And now the time returns again:
            Our souls exult,& London’s towers
Receive the lamb of God to dwell
            In England’s green & pleasant bowers.

(William Blake, ‘Jerusalem: The Emanation of the Giant Albion’ [1804], Jerusalem ed by E.R.D. Maclagan and A.G.B. Russell (1904), p.77). 

In the light of Jerusalemic mythology, catalysts like Ferlinghetti, heralds like Corso and a high-priest like Ginsberg were indeed called for to revive Albion today. England had need of Miltonics – strong confident voices, to purge the atmosphere of slick or ambiguous non-sounds. She seemed the veritable ‘fen of stagnant waters’ – her obtaining philosophies sunk in ‘irritable reaching after fact and reason’ – controlled by logical and linguistic analysis; her arts in the anxious vicelike grip of surface naturalism, & posey tied down by abstract law, the type of Urizen (‘Your Reason + the Greek ‘limiting power’) – unregenerate commonsensical enemies of light. Her literary giants mere Goliaths of advertising, her brightest sparks in the deathly stupor of materialism.
                                                                                                          ---(Horovitz, ‘Afterwords’, p. 344.).

[…] He (Fainlight) dedicated his ‘Larksong’ specifically to English poets – to rouse up whole galaxies of song – the poem a machine to outlive the most insolent raids on inner and outer space.

The effect of culture has never been so direct and widespread as it is amongst the international class of disaffiliated young people, the provotariat. Consequently, art itself has seldom been closer to its violent and orgiastic roots. What has happened is that the pressure of restriction preceding nuclear suicide has precipitated a biological reflex compelling the leftist element in the young middle class for the reaffirmation of life by orgy and violence. What is happening is an evolutionary convulsion rather than a reformation. Young people are not correcting society. They are regurgitating it. 
                                            ---(Jeff Nuttall, Bomb Culture, 1968, p. 9.).

Professor Leavis said:

…Poetry matters because of the kind of poet who is more alive than most people, most alive in his own age. He is, as it were, the most conscious point of the race in his time. 
                                                                                  ---(Horovitz, ‘Afterwords’, p.373).


Horovitz, Michael (ed.), Children of Albion: Poetry of the ‘Underground’ in Britain (Penguin, 1969).
Horovitz, Wordsounds and Sightlines: New and Selected Poems (New Departures,1994).
Nutall, Jeff, Bomb Culture (Paladin, 1968).
Fainlight, Harry, Sussicran (Turret, 1965).
Fainlight, Selected Poems ed. by Ruth Fainlight (Turret, 1986).
Whitehead, Peter (ed.) Wholly Communion (Lorrimer, 1966). 

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