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Poetry

Dylan Thomas in 1946. Photograph: Francis Reiss/Getty Images

Dylan Thomas: speeches for Hitler, balderdash for Walton and the true meaning of Under Milk Wood

24 October 2014 11:11

My father came across Dylan Thomas in a Swansea pub in 1947. ‘Chap over there,’ said one of the regulars ‘is a poet.’ ‘What’s his name?’ asked my father. ‘No… Continue reading

4 Comments
Young-Poet-Awatds-at-Royal-Exhibition-Hall-Krish-Nagari-TheUpcoming-6

The Foyle prize for poetry will restore your faith in arts awards

6 October 2014 15:10

Those of us who were never destined to be great young poets can probably remember the attempts. I kept my verses from when I was 14 in a pillowcase, which… Continue reading

3 Comments
The Village. Photo: BBC / Company Pictures / Brian Sweeney

The Village: Sunday-night TV at its most unsubtle and addictive

14 August 2014 16:38

Proof that television has changed a bit since 1972 came with an archive clip shown on BBC4 on Sunday. ‘My first guest:’ Michael Parkinson announced matter-of-factly on his Saturday-night chat… Continue reading

4 Comments
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The poet who welcomed war

23 April 2014 14:52

Today, 23 April, the world celebrates the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s presumed birth (and marks with less joy the date of the Bard’s death in 1616). That double date… Continue reading

9 Comments
Byron's Muse.

Poetry in motion — and bridges and graves

19 April 2014 15:00

The most recent challenge, to incorporate a list of poets’ surnames — motion, bridges, wilde, gray, cope, hood, burns and browning — into a poem or piece of prose, presented… Continue reading

4 Comments
BAFTA Los Angeles 2011 Britannia Awards - Red Carpet

Ed Vaizey for the BM?

9 April 2014 15:28

There was only one topic of discussion at the launch of Nadine Dorries’s novel Four Streets last night – will Maria Miller survive? The conversation was particularly pointed because Ed… Continue reading

3 Comments
Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy. Would prisoners kill for her wry, pungent volumes? Image: Getty

Would prisoners kill for Carol Ann Duffy?

30 March 2014 11:34

It is of course shocking that the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling should ban prisoners from receiving books sent by their friends and relatives. We might all agree with author Philip… Continue reading

25 Comments
poems-wilfred-owen1

Is Wilfred Owen’s poetry any good?

18 March 2014 14:04

Wilfred Owen, the poet whose work epitomises the horror of the First World War for most people in modern Britain, was born in Oswestry in the Shropshire Marches, close to… Continue reading

33 Comments
food_-_iceberg_lettuce

The poetry and poignancy of the Consumer Prices Index

14 March 2014 9:39

Tufted carpets out, flavoured milk in. Canvas shoes in, take away coffee out. Last year we accepted spreadable butter, dropped round lettuce. In 2006 we let in the chicken kiev… Continue reading

5 Comments
It's time to get drunk on poetry - The Poetry Recital by A Gatty (Image: The Art Archive/ Burcardo Theatre, Rome)

Poemination: the antidote to idiocy

24 February 2014 17:10

Do you know any poems off by heart? I don’t. When I was younger, I used to. My favourite poem to recite was Roald Dahl’s Veruca Salt, the little brute.… Continue reading

4 Comments
Chris Bryant personifies the adage that the devil makes work for idle thumbs on Twitter. (Image: Press Association)

Always at my back I hear, Chris Bryant tweeting near

9 January 2014 13:13

Yesterday’s PMQs was a sombre affair, because of the untimely death of well-liked Labour MP Paul Goggins. The party leaders made a concerted effort to be a little more civil… Continue reading

7 Comments
Detail from the front cover of 'The Pleasure Ground' by Richard Murphy, published by Bloodaxe.

Interview with a poet: Richard Murphy, an old Spectator hand

10 September 2013 10:30

Richard Murphy was born in County Mayo in Ireland in 1927. He spent part of his childhood in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) where his father was the last British mayor… Continue reading

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Seamus Heaney, Recipient of 1995 Nobel Prize for Literature, In Bologna

Must read: Jenny McCartney on Seamus Heaney and Ulster’s divide

6 September 2013 9:00

If you haven’t already done so, I urge you to read Jenny McCartney’s piece in this week’s issue of the magazine. Together with Christopher Fletcher’s personal appreciation of Seamus Heaney… Continue reading

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The Guardian Hay Festival 2006

A Little Something: remembering Seamus Heaney

2 September 2013 16:59

‘So.’ So begins Seamus Heaney’s translation of ‘Beowulf’. I know it didn’t come easy to him. The morning after he had been awarded the Whitbread Prize for the work I… Continue reading

2 Comments
The trailer from Danny Boyle's recent National Theatre adaptation of Frankenstein starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller.

What if Byron and the Shelleys had live tweeted from the Villa Diodati?

2 September 2013 13:38

It’s one of the most famous – indeed infamous – episodes in English literary history. In the summer of 1816 Lord Byron took a villa on the banks of Lake… Continue reading

2 Comments
England, bound in with the triumphant sea,
Whose rocky shore beats back the envious siege/ Of watery Neptune, is now bound in with shame,/ With inky blots and rotten parchment bonds.

Is England too good for the English? Shakespeare’s John of Gaunt seems to think so

26 August 2013 9:30

From Shakespeare’s Richard II, lines spoken by John of Gaunt. This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle, This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, This other Eden, demi-paradise,… Continue reading

7 Comments
What did Thomas Traherne mean when he wrote: 'The stars did entertain my sense'?  (Ye Aung Thu/AFP/Getty Images)

Discovering Poetry: Thomas Traherne’s life lessons

19 August 2013 10:40

From ‘Wonder’, by Thomas Traherne How like an angel came I down! How bright are all things here! When first among his works I did appear O how their glory… Continue reading

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NOTW Journalists Appear At The Leveson Inquiry

George the Poet on illegal immigration, courtesy of the Guardian

2 August 2013 8:54

I watched this thinking it would be hilariously bad, but ended up quite liking it; especially the line, near the end, ‘it’s not British, it’s brutish’. Ok it ain’t T S… Continue reading

47 Comments
A visitor examines 'The Illustrated Odyssey' of Marc Chagall (Jose CABEZAS/AFP/Getty Images)

Which Ulysses is the most heroic?

29 July 2013 15:13

From ‘Ulysses’ by Alfred, Lord Tennyson                                     Come, my friends, ‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world. Push off, and sitting well in order smite The sounding furrows;… Continue reading

1 Comment
Pride and Prejudice Ball To Celebrate The 200th Anniversary Of The Book

Alexander Pope, mock-epic, modernity and misogyny

16 July 2013 12:01

from The Rape of the Lock And now, unveiled, the toilet stands displayed, Each silver vase in mystic order laid. First, robed in white, the nymph intent adores With head… Continue reading

0 Comments
Way Of The Cross Led By Pope Benedict XVI

Laughing at sin

1 July 2013 11:27

Francis Quarles, An emblem on books ‘The world’s a book, writ by the eternal art Of the great Maker, printed in man’s heart; ‘Tis falsely printed, though divinely penned, And… Continue reading

11 Comments
Had we but world enough and time... (PAL PILLAI/AFP/Getty Images)

To their coy mistresses: two poems about the arts of seduction

17 June 2013 11:18

Andrew Marvell, from ‘To His Coy Mistress’ But at my back I always hear Times winged chariot hurrying near: And yonder all before us lie Deserts of vast eternity. Thy… Continue reading

2 Comments
Journey Of The Cross And Icon Takes Place In Sydney

Discovering poetry: John Donne, from deviant to Dean of St. Paul’s

3 June 2013 12:43

Holy Sonnet 7, John Donne At the round earth’s imagined corners, blow Your trumpets, angels, and arise, arise From death, you numberless infinities Of souls, and to your scattered bodies… Continue reading

2 Comments
Lord Byron circa 1810, shortly after the publication of ‘Stanzas to [Mrs Musters] on Leaving England’, the poem which prompted his childhood friend Elizabeth Parkyns to write a savage riposte.

Taking revenge on wicked Lord Byron

15 May 2013 8:30

This is the second article in an occasional series by Christopher Fletcher, Keeper of Special Collections at the Bodleian Library. You can read the first instalment here. By 1814, two… Continue reading

2 Comments
The ‘hey nonino’ nonsense in As you Like It has certainly not aged well. But the sense of love and lovers it articulates is timeless. (ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

In defence of William Shakespeare’s nonsense

29 April 2013 10:43

‘It was a lover and his lass’ from As You Like It It was a lover and his lass With a hey and a ho and a hey nonino, That… Continue reading

2 Comments