In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle enjoys some good bad poetry courtesy of The Joy of Bad Verse I’ve long been a fan of Nicholas Parsons. No, not that one – although who could fail to appreciate the sharp wit of the Just a Minute host? – but Nicholas T. […]
On Longfellow’s glorious rain poem The US poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-82) is best-known for The Song of Hiawatha, and for growing a beard to hide the marks of a family tragedy, but he also wrote many other celebrated poems. And then there’s ‘The Rainy Day’, which isn’t numbered among his most famous. But it […]
Are these the best hymns to urban life? There are countless classic poems about the countryside, but what great poems have been written about the city and urban life? We’ve tried to include a range of cities here, so although there are three on London and two on New York, there’s also one on Paris, […]
On Lawrence’s fine poem about all things green Was D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930) an imagist? He’s well-known as a novelist, slightly less celebrated as a poet and a writer of some truly wonderful short stories. But how should we categorise his poetry? Can he be labelled, and analysed as, ‘imagist’? Here is his fine short […]
On one of American literature’s forgotten poets The American poet Adelaide Crapsey (1878-1914) is not much remembered now, but she left one mini poetic legacy: the cinquain. The word ‘cinquain’ had existed before her miniature verse innovation, but Crapsey co-opted it to describe the five-line unrhymed form which she used in her finest poetry. Previously, […]
On a well-known children’s rhyme We continue our short pieces about star-related poems today, following on from yesterday’s post about Emily Dickinson’s star-poem. ‘Twinkle, twinkle, little star’ is a well-known children’s poem, and yet, like many well-known things, how well do we actually know it? Who wrote it, for instance? And who can recite the […]
On a curious Dickinson poem Emily Dickinson (1830-86) rarely did things the simple way. She used rhyme, but just as often used half-rhyme or pararhyme; she almost always wrote in quatrains, but sometimes broke away from these to write longer stanzas; when she writes about snow she does so without ever actually mentioning that that […]
In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle revisits the deftly plotted fantasy novels of Michael Moorcock It’s not as well-known as it should be that C. S. Lewis nominated his fellow Inkling, J. R. R. Tolkien, for the Nobel Prize in Literature. In 1961, the Chronicles of Narnia author put forward […]
Notes towards a commentary on Donne’s ‘The Extasie’ John Donne (1572-1631) didn’t write ordinary love poems. Arguably the first of the ‘metaphysical poets’, Donne writes about love in a refreshingly direct and honest way. And yet, as the label ‘metaphysical’ suggests, his poetry is also full of complex and convoluted images and analogies, and decidedly […]
The best water-themed poems Previously, we’ve offered our pick of the best rain poems, the best river poems, and the best sea poems. Now, we’re broadening the focus a little to ‘the best water poems’… Anonymous, ‘The Seafarer’. This 124-line poem is often considered an elegy, since it appears to be spoken by an old sailor looking back […]
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