A large question mark hangs over the title. Clearly ‘modern’ can mean anything according to its context (try asking an ancient historian what he means by modern!) but here, for the purposes of argument, it means something that happened in the British Theatre in the 1930s and 1940s which seems crucial in the larger struggles of verse drama. Even that word ‘drama’ which seems so solid has its elusive quality which may sound surprising until one thinks about the list in The Art of Drama which runs from Agamemnon to The Playboy of the Western World and leads the author, Ronald Peacock, to suggest that the voice of the dramatist is so individual that ‘the association in a form known as drama seems fortuitous and of little consequence’ (p. 102). And when we turn to verse the difficulties intensify. Criticism suffers from too many terms and too much confusion about them. We have prose, verse and poetry and we can usually distinguish prose from verse but this leaves us asking what we mean by poetry. It is not a modern question. Aristotle, in Poetics, noted that Homer and Empedocles were both called poets though they have nothing in common except their metre: ‘the former, therefore, justly merits the name of poet; while the other should rather be called a physiologist than a poet.’ (Everyman edition, translated Thomas Twining, p. 6). There was no real urgency to the problem while verse served a common purpose until the nineteenth century when the Romantic movement defined a specialized idea of poetry. This helped the growing recognition that many works obviously in prose were producing results usually associated with poetry. For Aristotle tragedy was in verse because verse was the natural form and the iambic metre ‘the most colloquial; as appears evidently from this fact, that our common conversation frequently falls into iambic verse; seldom into hexameter, and only when we depart from our usual melody of speech.’ (ibid., pp. 11–12).