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Poetry Please

What is poetry? It is many things to many people. It can make you laugh, or cry, tug at your heartstrings or stiffen your resolve. There is no absolute definition, but we know poetry is more than just a group of meaningful words; it has the ability to arouse a deep, emotional response in the reader.

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‘England, My England

William Ernest Henley (1849 – 1903) was an English poet, critic and editor. Born in Gloucester, Henley was the oldest of six children. Henley earned his living in publishing and in 1889 became the editor of the Scots Observer (an Edinburgh journal) which was transferred to London in 1891 as the National Observer. Arguably Henley’s best remembered work is the poem ‘Invictus,’ which Nelson Mandela was said to have recited to other prisoners whilst incarcerated in Robben Island Prison. Continue reading

A Memory of June

Claude McKay, born Festus Claudius McKay, was a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance, a prominent literary movement of the 1920s. McKay was born in Sunny Ville, Jamaica, in 1889. The son of peasant farmers, he was infused with racial pride and a great sense of his African heritage. Continue reading

The Lamb by William Blake

William Blake (1757 - 1827) was born in Soho, London, and was son to a hosier and his wife. Blake’s early ambitions lay not with poetry but with painting and at the age of 14, after attending drawing school, he was apprenticed to James Basire, engraver. Blake’s artistic energies branched & he privately published his Poetical Sketches (1783), a collection of poems that he had written over the previous years. In August 1782, Blake married Catherine Sophia Boucher, who was illiterate. Continue reading

A Dead Rose

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806 - 1861) was one of the most prominent poets of the Victorian era. Born in County Durham, Browning was educated at home. She was an intensely studious, precocious child; writing her first known poem “On the Cruelty of Forcement to Man” between the ages of 6-8. Her first collections of poems “An Essay on Mind, with Other Poems” was published in 1826 and reflected her passion for Byron and Greek politics. In 1849, after the birth of her son and at her husband’s insistence, Browning published her second edition of Poems, including her love sonnets; her popularity increased, as well as critical regard, and her position was confirmed. ‘A Dead Rose’ Continue reading

The Months

Christina Rossetti was born on 5th Dec 1830, in London, the youngest of the four remarkable Rossetti children. Educated entirely at home, she spoke English and Italian with ease and read French, Latin, and German. Her first published poems were the seven she contributed in 1850 to the Pre-Raphaelite magazine, the Germ, under the pseudonym Ellen Alleyne. Rossetti was stricken by Graves’ disease in 1871 which ruined her beauty and brought her close to death. When she recovered, she turned almost exclusively to religious writing, publishing a number of devotional books: In 1891 she began to suffer from cancer and died, after a long and painful illness, on 29th Dec1894, in London. Continue reading

Macavity: The Mystery Cat

Macavity: The Mystery Cat by T.S Eliot. Thomas Stearns Eliot was born on September 26, 1888, in St. Louis, Missouri, the 7th child of Henry Ware Eliot, a brick manufacturer, and Charlotte (Stearns) Eliot, who was active in social reform and was herself a talented poet. Both parents were descended from families that had emigrated from England to Massachusetts in the 17th century. Carol Rundle wanted to share one of her favourite humorous poems which is - Macavity: The Mystery Cat by T. S Eliot. I am sure many cat lovers will smile at Macavity and even children will enjoy this poem. Continue reading

When the frost is on the Punkin by James Whitcomb

Known as “The Hoosier Poet” because of his birth in Indiana and poems celebrating the state, and as “The Children’s Poet” due to his appeal for young readers, James Whitcomb Riley was one of his day’s best-selling writers. Full of sentiment and traditional in form, his work features rustic subjects who speak in a homely, countrified dialect. When Riley died, Woodrow Wilson called him “a man who imparted joyful pleasure and a thoughtful view of many things that other men would have missed,” and some 35,000 people filed past his casket in the Indiana State Capitol. Continue reading
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