Yvor Winters: "Before Disaster" (629 words)

Neil Forsyth (Université de Lausanne)
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Context

“Before Disaster” is one of Yvor Winters’s most frequently quoted poems. Donald Davie foregrounded it in his introduction to the Collected Poems of 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.…

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 16 October 2021.]

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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