A Box for Wilfrid Blunt

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This essay analyzes the testimonial occasion organized by Lady Gregory, Yeats, and Pound to honor the poet and anti-imperialist Wilfrid Scawen Blunt (1840-1922). On 18 January 1914, Blunt welcomed six younger poets to his house in Sussex, where they dined on a peacock culled from his flock. At the ritual center of the meal was the presentation to Blunt of a marble box containing his guests' poems; on the top of the box, designed by Gaudier-Brzeska, was a reclining nude woman. The dinner had a double purpose: to construct a poetic genealogy that would give meaning to a distinctly masculine literary tradition and to make that genealogy visible. Accounts of the event were planted in four journals, and the famous photograph, with the tall, impressively bearded Blunt surrounded by his scions, appears in all the poets' biographies. With its potent combination of homosocial intimacy and artistic glamour, the "peacock dinner" claimed an important place in its participants' memories and resonated in their writing for many years.

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McDiarmid, Lucy. “A Box for Wilfrid Blunt.” PMLA, vol. 120, no. 1, 2005, pp. 163–180. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/25486151