BJ. William Plomer

41. Allen, Louis. ‘William Plomer and Japan’. In Cortazzi and Daniels (CC8), 1991.


Allen places Plomer among those ‘observers of Japanese life’ who received from a ‘brief stay’ in the country an ‘impression so profound and disturbing that it . . . lasted the rest of their lives’, in Plomer’s case ‘confirming’ a ‘dislike for . . . puritanism’, a ‘determinism’, and a ‘disbelief in progress’. Allen emphasises the degree to which Plomer’s fiction (3, 5, and 13) anticipates the rise of Japanese militarism, but finds the verse of the Japan section of Collected Poems (16) ‘not very different from the sort of lyric, half-affectionate, half critical’, that is the ‘staple’ of English poets in Japan, including Enright (see CA14b), Kirkup (see CA14c), and Anthony Thwaite. The latter point is accurate enough, but fails to note that if the ‘genre’ has become a ‘staple’, Plomer might be considered its father. His poems from Japan precede those of Enright, Kirkup, and Thwaite by nearly three decades. Includes discussion of the development of Curlew River (18).





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