Fox on a Barn Door: The Poetry of Ted Walker

In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle reads nature poetry from a forgotten poet named Ted

Who is being described? This poet was born in England in the 1930s, married his first wife (of two) in 1956 after falling madly in love, made a name for himself as a nature poet (one notable early poem from his first collection featuring a fox), died in his late 60s, and was called Ted? I’m talking not about Ted Hughes but Ted Walker (1934-2004), one of England’s foremost nature poets of the second half of the twentieth century. And yet while Ted Hughes is one of the most recognisable names in twentieth-century English poetry, his namesake has fallen from view.

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10 of the Best John Clare Poems Everyone Should Read

By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University)

John Clare (1793-1864) has been called the greatest nature poet in the English language (by, for instance, his biographer Jonathan Bate), and yet his life – particularly his madness and time inside an asylum later in his life – tends to overshadow his poetry.

So here we’ve picked ten of John Clare’s best poems which offer an introduction to his idiosyncratic style and wonderful eye for detail, especially concerning the natural world. For a good edition of John Clare’s poetry, we recommend John Clare: Major Works from Oxford University Press.

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A Short Analysis of A. E. Housman’s ‘Tell Me Not Here, It Needs Not Saying’

‘Tell me not here, it needs not saying’ is one of the most famous poems from A. E. Housman’s second volume, Last Poems (1922). In this poem, which comes near the end of the collection, Housman reflects on his relationship with nature, before concluding that, although nature does not care or even know about him, he feels a close bond with it.

Tell me not here, it needs not saying,
What tune the enchantress plays
In aftermaths of soft September
Or under blanching mays,
For she and I were long acquainted
And I knew all her ways.

On russet floors, by waters idle,
The pine lets fall its cone;
The cuckoo shouts all day at nothing
In leafy dells alone;
And traveller’s joy beguiles in autumn
Hearts that have lost their own.

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A Short Analysis of Gerard Manley Hopkins’s ‘Spring’

A summary of a Hopkins poem

‘Spring’ is not as widely known as some of the other sonnets written by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89), which is a shame: it’s a powerful evocation of the beauty of spring. It is that season, Hopkins reminds us, ‘When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush’. Here is ‘Spring’, followed by a brief analysis of it.

Nothing is so beautiful as Spring –
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.

What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden. – Have, get, before it cloy,
Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.

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