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The Poems that the Great and Good Turn to

In this special guest post, Auriol Bishop explores the role of poetry in times of turbulence and trouble

What is it about poetry when it feels as though the world is falling apart?

Pithy, expressive, capturing in a soundbite all you want to say and mean; and in far better words than you could have put it yourself – if you reach for your favourite collection of poems at moments of crisis, you can be sure you’re not alone. Social media is alive with poetry new and old, words of comfort and inspiration being shared between friends and strangers. There are numerous blogs, as well as articles in the mainstream press with poetry reading lists to bring you solace in these troubled times of ours.

And you’re in the company of many a world leader and public figure, too, of course: from Jeremy Corbyn declaiming Shelley to the cheering crowds at Glastonbury to President Putin’s public broadcast of the words of Andrey Dementyev for International Women’s Day, there’s a perennial appeal to the higher authority of a poet’s words that have already stood the test of time. Read the rest of this entry

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Four Short Poems by Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell (1879-1944) was an Irish poet who wrote in both English and Gaelic (publishing his latter work under the name Seosamh Mac Cathmhaoil or Seosamh MacCathmhaoil). Like pioneering modernist poet T. E. Hulme, who was four years younger than him, Campbell wrote a small number of short poems in free verse and utilising a pared back and understated style. There is no rhetoric here, no outpouring of emotion (perhaps too little for some readers); but what these poems show is the emergence of a distinctly modern style of poetry that rejects the gushing excesses of the worst Victorian verse. Written towards the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, they are among the first poems written in English which can be confidently labelled ‘modern’. Read the rest of this entry

The Poems of Digby Mackworth Dolben

The life and poems of the Victorian era’s adolescent poet

Who is being described? Born in the 1840s, he died young, and his poetry was only published after his death. When it appeared – in the early twentieth century – it was thanks to Robert Bridges, who became UK Poet Laureate in 1913. This poet, who was a friend of Bridges’, was drawn to the religion of Roman Catholicism. Indeed, much of his poetry is deeply religious. He was also known for his attachments to other young men, though nobody knows precisely how far these went. Read the rest of this entry