The Blog


POETRY IN LOCKDOWN: 23

It isn’t only with irony that poets convey something different from what they appear to be saying, and this reflects human experience. Our words often tug one way while our thoughts strain in the other direction. Or, sometimes, contrary feelings are [...]

POETRY IN LOCKDOWN: 22

The stock of poet Sir Thomas Wyatt has risen greatly since he popped up in Wolf Hall and its sequels, Hilary Mantel’s wildly successful novels about Thomas Cromwell. Wyatt was a courtier-diplomat, a protegé of Cromwell, but also close to the Boleyn f [...]

POETRY IN LOCKDOWN: 21

Just to return to Byron for a moment: despite his louche style of life this was an enormously busy poet who wrote numerous long pieces now very rarely read (Beppo, Manfred, The Bride of Abydos, Lara, The Siege of Corinth etc.). But his greatest work [...]

MY FATHER'S VE DAY

My father was not very hot on writing, but this letter to my grandmother captures the some of the excitment of VE Day in Swansea, where he found himself in camp.  Ravenhill Camp, Swansea12 May 1945 VE Day was exciting and good fun. Swansea like any [...]

POETRY IN LOCKDOWN: 20

I remember a cartoon by (I believe) Hector Breeze set in the World War 1 trenches. A junior officer under intense bombardment scrambles up to a senior one: “The situations pretty desperate, Sir. We’re down to our last poet.”  On the 75th VE Day I’m [...]

POETRY IN LOCKDOWN: 19

Airports are moth-balled, rail schedules are emaciated and motorway congestion is a remote memory. One day, when our own “embargo’s off”, we will all travel again. In the meantime we can do it vicariously. Here is a verse letter written at the other [...]

POETRY IN LOCKDOWN 18

Most of us in lockdown are writing more letters — or rather emails — and perhaps taking more care over them. The other day I wrote one in doggerel verse to my cousins, also under lockdown, in  Italy.  Letters in verse have been written by real poets [...]

POETRY IN LOCKDOWN 17

John Clare was born in 1793, his background so poor that he would be known as the peasant poet. Self-educated he had a brief period of fame as a published poet in London in the 1820s, but otherwise lived hand-to-mouth and neglected in Northamptonshir [...]

POETRY IN LOCKDOWN: 16

Like William Blake, D. H. Lawrence was a highly unusual character, in life and in his writing. As a poet Lawrence's lines are ragged, of varying lengths and rhythms, in a tone like everyday speech, or everyday thinking. They also deal with quite ever [...]

POETRY IN LOCKDOWN: 15

Judging by one or two videos circulating during lockdown, animals around the world are enjoying life with hardly any humans about in the streets and city parks. So let's turn to some poems about animals. English poetry has been reckoning with the ani [...]
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