Christina Rossetti and a Bleak Midwinter for Women

By December 4, 2017Poetry
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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!

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

Pablo Neruda: Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines

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Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto, better known for his pen name Pablo Neruda was a Chilean poet, diplomat and politician born on July 12th 1904. Neruda started receiving recognition for his poetry aged just thirteen and wrote in a variety of styles including surrealist poems, historical epics and even political manifestos, although he is probably best known for his passionate love poems.

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

Neil Gaiman Wins Science Fiction Poetry Prize

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Neil Gaiman’s poem The Mushroom Hunters has won first prize in the Long Poem category at The 2018 Rhysling Awards.

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.

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5 of our Favourite Summer Poems

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Summer is here at last!

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.

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