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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.

She Walks in Beauty by Lord Byron

This poem was written in 1814 by Lord Byron, and is one of his most famous works. It was one of several poems to be set to Jewish tunes for the synagogue by Issac Natham, which were published as Hebrew Melodies in 1815. The poem is said to have been inspired by an event in Byron’s life. While at a ball, Byron met Mrs John Wilmot, his cousin by marriage. She was in mourning, wearing a black dress set with spangles, as in the opening lines. He was struck by her unusual beauty , and the next morning the poem was written. Continue reading

“Out Patients”

This poem is by Charlotte Gringras, a local Altrincham writer. Her first novel, The Purple Rose, set in Manchester, was published in 2012 and is still available. Her second novel, ‘Not in our Hands’ is due out in 14th January 2015. It is set in Italy and re-introduces one of the characters from ‘The Purple Rose’ Continue reading

“A visit from St Nicolas”

“A Visit from St. Nicholas”, also known as “ Twas the Night Before Christmas” from its first line, is a poem first published anonymously in 1823. Henry Livingston, Jr. has been proposed as being the uncredited author of the poem, however, credit for the poem was taken in 1837 by Clement Clarke Moore, a bible scholar in New York City, nine years after Livingston’s death. It wasn’t until another twenty years that the Livingston family knew of Moore’s claim, and then in 1900 they went public with their claim. Since then, the question has been repeatedly raised and continues to be argued by experts on both sides. Continue reading

A Boy’s Thanksgiving Day

This the original title of the poem that has become better known as a song: “Over the River and Through the Wood.” It’s the most famous poem by Lydia Maria Child (1802-1880), a women’s rights activist. She was also the author of “The Frugal Housewife”, a book aimed at poorer housewives who didn’t have servants (the vast majority of women in the world). It was an attempt at a scientific approach to housekeeping and cooking, focussed on how to save money and time. By 1930, the full title had become: “The American Frugal Housewife, Dedicated to Those Who Are Not Ashamed of Economy.” Continue reading

Words by Helen Hurst

This month’s poem has been written by Helen Hurst who lives in Bowdon and has just written her first book. Helen always wanted to write but felt like she never had anything to say, until now. Helen has self-published her eBook ‘A day with OCD (not that I have it)’ on where the first few pages of the book can be previewed for free. Helen also has 10 review copies available for free (in return for a review) which can be requested by contacting her @he1enhurst on Twitter or at More information can be found at Continue reading

In Flanders Fields the Poppies Grow

This poem was first published anonymously in the London magazine ‘Punch’ in December 8th, 1915. It was an instant hit. The author is Dr. John McCrae, a Canadian doctor, formerly of the Royal Victoria Hospital at Montreal, who served with No. 3 Canadian General Hospital in France. It was written in early May 1915, during the Second Battle of Ypres. Dr. McCrae continued to serve until overworked and demoralised, he died of pneumonia on the 28th of January, 1918, at age 45. Continue reading

I see the Boys of Summer

Dylan Thomas was a Welsh poet and writer born in Swansea, Wales in 1914. He left school at 16 and became a journalist for a short time. Although many of his works appeared in print while he was still a teenager, it was the publication of “Light breaks where no sun shines”, in 1934, that caught the attention of the literary world. He became popular in his lifetime and remained so after is premature death in New York in 1953. In his later life he acquired a reputation, which he encouraged, as a “roistering, drunken and doomed poet”. Continue reading

Charge of the Light Brigrade

Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1809 – 1892, was born in Somersby, Lincolnshire and began writing poetry at an early age, publishing his first work when he was just sixteen. Tennyson went on to write many poems about famous events in English history. Prince Albert was a patron of Tennyson’s work and in 1850, when William Wordsworth died, appointed him Poet Laureate. Continue reading

A Smuggler’s Song

One of our readers was stimulated to send us Rudyard Kipling’s ‘A Smuggler’s Song’ after seeing the recent BBC dramatisation of Daphne Du Maurier’s classic, Jamaica Inn. Many grown-ups still remember ‘A Smuggler’s Song’ from their own childhood, and can often recite lines from it, especially the second verse. Continue reading