Ross was first and foremost a poet, a Bard. During the inter-war years he clearly poured most of his creative energy into writing poetry: we know that his poems were published in Horizon, Poetry Quarterly, Poetry (London) and Poetry (Scotland), the New Saxon and the New English Weekly, and reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement, The Listener, The Birmingham Post, Scrutiny, the Yorkshire Post, the Manchester Evening News, New English Weekly, and Poetry Quarterly. He was a contemporary of T.S.Eliot and W.H.Auden, and in his last Will and Testament he asked that “Elliot be consulted by my Literary Executors for technical direction and advice generally offering him the sum of fifty pounds if he should do this, as a small mark of my admiration for his poetic work.”
His poetry is quoted in much of the teaching material of the Order, and a selection of his poetry has been published, entitled Prophet, Priest and King. In his introduction to this collection poet Jay Ramsay writes:
Ross Nichols, who was a contemporary of Eliot, and rated highly by many including Edwin Muir, was Chief of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids until his sudden and unexpected death in 1975. An accomplished prose writer, essayist, editor, and water colourist, we can now see him as one of the “Apocalypse poets” of the ’40’s. As Chief of the Order from 1964, his contribution was substantial, re-introducing into contemporary Druid practice the Winter Solstice Festival and the four Celtic Fire Festivals, which he led in London and at Glastonbury.
Prophet, Priest And King is a long overdue selection of his poetry, which includes poems from Prose Chants and Proems (1941), The Cosmic Shape (with James Kirkup, 1946), Seasons At War (1947), and unpublished poems from the early ’50’s onwards which continue the thread of his preoccupations with myth, redemption, and rebirth. This collection helps us to see Ross Nichols not only as a poet of his own time, but as one of our own time.