This is an informal history of poetry in English from Piers Plowman to the major figures of the mid-twentieth century, namely Peter Redgrove, Francis Berry, Galway Kinnell and Patrick Kavanagh. Its argument is that the central tradition of English poetry is earthy, alliterative, colloquial, with a strong regard for structure and the claims of plot. Whole alien tracts of subject-matter have been assimilated to this tradition. But from time to time the mistake has been made of imitating the style and not just the content of foreign modes: this is experiment, and it goes against the tradition.
The basic form in English is that of Piers Plowman – or rather just the first half of it. For scholars have made the mistake of lumping together two quite distinct poems, the 'Visio' which is pithy, proverbial, local, alliterative and narrative,