[Editor: This review of Six Australian Poets (by T. Inglis Moore) is from the “Book reviews” column (by A. H. Chisholm), published in The Herald (Melbourne, Vic.), 22 August 1942.]
If the average Australian were asked to name the chief Australian poets, he would probably nominate Gordon, Kendall, Lawson, Paterson, and Dennis. The appeal of those writers being popular rather than poetic, it follows that none of them figures in a selection of six leading poets made by Mr. T. Inglis Moore. He votes for Hugh McCrae, Shaw Neilson, Bernard O’Dowd, William Baylebridge, Christopher Brennan, and R. D. Fitzgerald — a varied and brilliant band.
The book in which Mr. Moore discusses his selections — a volume sponsored by the Commonwealth Literary Fund — is an important addition to Australian critical literature. It offers a sound, sympathetic, well-written appraisement of the merits of each of the poets named, together with a foreword by Mr. C. Hartley Grattan and an informative introductory survey by the author.
In conceding that his six poets are comparatively unknown to the ordinary reader and the popular opinion, Mr. Moore laments the depressingly low standard of critical values in this country. He finds, indeed, that even Professor Walter Murdoch, in a standard anthology, ranks Gordon, by space representation, as more than twice the poet Shaw Neilson is, four times better than Brennan, and worth half-a-dozen of McCrae!
Inevitably, the author complains also of the comparatively low economic, professional, and social status of Australian writers. It puzzles him to know why producers of material goods are given all manner of rebates, etc., whereas the producers of ideas — the finest thought of the finest minds — are disregarded.
“Why,” he asks, “is it considered necessary to help pear-growers to live while poets are cheerfully allowed to starve? Why are inefficient wheat-farmers protected to the tune of millions while efficient writers who grow a finer bread of life are treated with utter neglect?”
“SIX AUSTRALIAN POETS,” by T. Inglis Moore (Melbourne: Robertson and Mullen).
The Herald (Melbourne, Vic.), 22 August 1942, p. 10
[Editor: Added an opening double quotation mark before “SIX AUSTRALIAN POETS”.]