For Ivor Gurney nothing came easily. ‘The price of almost anything
that one desires worthily’, he wrote from France in 1917, ‘is only
Pain … long ago I decided that to accomplish what I wish was worth
a great deal of pain and was ready to undergo it’. ‘We Who Praise
Poets’ suggests that the poet may expect no praise from his contemporaries,
and his worth is only to be measured against the ‘great trees’
of past poetry, ‘the able and the mighty dead’: in effect, those dead
are envisaged as pronouncing the verdict on his achievement.