Christina Rossetti and a Bleak Midwinter for Women

By December 4, 2017Poetry

English poet Christina Rossetti (5 December 1830 – 29 December 1894) was born in London to Gabriele Rossetti, a poet and political exile from Vasto, Abruzzo and Frances Polidori, sister of Lord Byron’s friend and physician John William Polidori.

She began signing and dating poems from 1842 and wrote a variety of romantic, devotional and children’s poems. However, she is least known for her best known works.

The poem In the Bleak Midwinter was written by Rossetti in January 1872, titled “A Christmas Carol”. In 1906 the poem was put to music by Gustav Holst, appearing in the English Hymnal and was then composed by Harold Edwin Darke in a later version now popular with choirs.

In the Bleak Midwinter has gone on to become one of the most loved and cherished hymns of all time yet Rossetti rarely gets a mention. Just a few weeks ago on a television programme about Gloucestershire (Holst’s home) a presenter explained how “the views across Gloucestershire in the winter inspired Holst’s In the Bleak Midwinter”, and it’s Holst who is given credit every time the hymn is aired.

The original poem was popular with soldiers during WWI, back then Rossetti was still being credited for the work, and in WWII, King’s College Choir regularly broadcasted Darke’s version and still prefer this composition today.

Here is The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge singing the hymn (and crediting Holst) in more festive surroundings. It’s one of my favourites, enjoy!

Poets Read Poems About Climate Change on a Melting Glacier

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Climate change is causing Greenland’s glaciers to melt, and the pacific island nations are noticing the increased amount of water caused by erosion of these mighty glaciers. In an effort to try and raise awareness about the colossal threat global warming poses, two poets came together on a melting glacier to recite a poem they’d written together.

The two had never met before when Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner traveled from the Marshall Islands in Micronesia to Greenland’s capital city Nuuk where she met Inuk poet Aka Niviâna. They then met up with a small film crew and journeyed on to an isolated area on southern Greenland’s ice sheet where they recited their poem “Rise” atop a melting glacier.

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The Controversy of Ezra Pound

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There’s no denying that Ezra Pound (30th October 1885 – 1st November 1972) was one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. Born in Idaho territory in 1885, Pound was the only child of English expatriate parents, Pound went to a Quaker school and had his first poetry published at 11 years old.

Into adulthood, Pound was credited with being a leading figure in Imagism, a movement derived from classical Chinese poetry, stressing clarity, precision, and economy of language. He’s also credited with being a major figure in early modernist poetry.
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2018 National Book Awards Longlist: Poetry

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This week we’re bringing you the longlist via the New Yorker for the National Book Awards 2018. So far we’ve had fiction, young people’s literature, and translated literature but today we’re looking at the poetry nominations.

The longlist for poetry is an eclectic collection with a range of poetry styles and collections. Some we’ve heard of, some poets are new to us, but we do know that if it’s in the longlist then it’s almost guaranteed to be a fantastic collection.

And here it is, the National Book Awards Longlist for Poetry 2018:

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Literary Laugharne: From 1172 to Dylan Thomas

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Don’t tell everyone, but last week I sneaked off on a little holiday down the coast and while I was there I went to spend a day in Laugharne. The small town is best known for being home to Dylan Thomas but less well known is its connection to Richard Hughes (A High Wind in Jamaica).

Laugharne is steeped in history, and was well before Thomas decided to reside there. It has a castle that dates back to the 1100s, laid siege by Cromwell in the 1600s but still standing in ruinous form today. The town also contains many fine examples of Georgian townhouses and is home to the Laugharne Corporation, the last surviving medieval corporation in the UK.

It is however, best known for being the home of Dylan Thomas and the town is scattered with landmarks connected to the author, from the boathouse, to his writing shed, the castle gazebo where he and Richard Hughes wrote together, the Dylan Thomas birthday walk, inspired by Poem in October, and his final resting place.
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Ted Hughes: in his own words

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Ted Hughes was born in Yorkshire, England on the 17th of August, 1930 and grew up in and around farmland where he learned to fish and hunt. His poetry is steeped with natural imagery, flora and fauna. The savagery of the natural world- both beautiful and violent- influenced him greatly, prompting him to use animals and nature as metaphorical devices.

Hughes’ terse yet powerful use of language, coloured by his West Riding dialect, created a hard energy to his work- emphatic but evocative, and never self-indulgent.

Watch below for a wonderful reading of The Crow by the poet himself.

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The Night of the Murdered Poets

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It sounds like the plot to a fantastic movie doesn’t it? Sadly the truth is a stain on history and yet another blot that fascism has left on our past.

On 12th August 1952, the execution of thirteen Soviet Jews in the Lubyanka Prison in Moscow in the then Soviet Union was carried out, the charges? Counterrevolutionary crimes and organised action meant to topple, undermine, or weaken the Soviet Union, whatever that means. Read More



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