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!
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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Neruda had many accolades to his name, for his political work and his poetry. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971 and was described by Gabriel Garcia Marquez as “The greatest poet of the 20th Century in any language.” Read More
The Science Fiction Poetry Association’s award was started in 1978 in recognition of achievements in the field of speculative poetry. The award was named after the blind singer and storyteller “Noisy” Rhysling, the protagonist of Robert A. Heinlein’s “The Green Hills of Earth“.
Neil Gaiman’s poem The Mushroom Hunters beat a whole array of other-worldly poems to gain the prestigious first prize for a long poem. The poem has been heralded as the “first feminist poem about the dawn of science“.
Watch the reading, or read it yourself below.
The next few months will be full of al fresco dining, bright evenings, and beach trips, interspersed with lots and lots of reading. To mark this season of sandcastles and ice cream we have gathered five of favourite Summer poems.
Let us know which of your own favourite poems remind you of the Summer time.