Oxford University passed over Robert T. S. Lowell Jr. '39 and appointed Edmund Blunden its professor of Poetry last Saturday. Lowell, who is a visiting professor of English here, would have been the first native-born American to occupy the chair.
Lowell, from his home in New York City, said last night that he had no "ill feelings whatever about the result." Blunden is "an excellent choice," he said.
Of the approximately 30,000 eligible voters--those who have received master of arts degrees from Oxford--only 718 donned their gowns and marched to the Sheldonian Theatre to vote. Blunden defeated his American rival, 477 to 241.
The professorship, which is considered one of the greatest honors that can be given to an English-speaking poet, has a five-year term and pays $840 for three lectures a year. The lectures are allowed to be on any subject, but they are usually criticisms, not discussions of the mechanics of writing poetry.
It was apparently the support of older Oxonians that gave Blunden, who is 69 years old, his victory. Many reportedly felt that the older candidate should have first crack at the job. Dr. Edid Starkie, noted lecturer in French literature and Blunden's campaign manager, said that she would be happy to support Lowell for the chair in five years.
The younger dons and writers supported Lowell on the ground that ability; not sentiment, should be the determining factor in the election. But many of them could not vote.
The Undergraduate Poetry Society, which was disappointed by the decision, had carried placards in support of Lowell in front of the theater until they were dispearsed by university officials. Andrew Campbell, president of the society, said that "Blunden simply is not read by undergraduates today whereas Lowell is the modern poet for them."
Blunden, who usually writes pastoral verse, recently edited the collected works of Wiltred Owen. When the news of his appointment was brought to him he remarked, "What a bit of luck."
Lowell is the author of five collections of poems and verse plays.