Yvor Winters, "Before Disaster"

Neil Forsyth (Université de Lausanne)
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“Before Disaster” is one of Yvor Winters’s most frequently quoted poems. Donald Davie foregrounded it in his introduction to the

Collected Poemsof Yvor Winters

. The poem is dated “Winter 1932- 3” and is about the rise of Fascism in Europe (“Fool and scoundrel guide the State”). It compares international politics with cars speeding down the California freeway, still a relatively new and terrifying sight in the early 1930s. The trochaic tetrameter leads inexorably towards “large, sweeping moral statements” (Pinsky 2007) about the “ranks of nations”:

Evening traffic homeward burns Swift and even on the turns, Drifting weight in triple rows, Fixed relation and repose. This one edges out and by, Inch by inch with steady eye. But should error be increased, Mass and moment

629 words

Citation: Forsyth, Neil. ""Before Disaster"". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 06 March 2015 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=35619, accessed 13 June 2024.]

35619 "Before Disaster" 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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