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!

Christina Rossetti and a Bleak Midwinter for Women

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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. Read More

5 New Collections for the Poetry Fan in Your Life

By | New Releases, Poetry | No Comments
Poetry collections always make lovely gifts for the reader. Books can be hard to buy as gifts, especially for readers as you often don’t know what they love, or what they’ve already read. But a collection of poetry is like a garden you can wander through the gate of whenever you like, spending a few moments or a few hours!

When many of us think of poetry we often think of stuffy tomes and undecipherable old English but modern poetry isn’t like that at all, and to show you, we’ve put together a list of 5 poetry collections, all released in recent years and all bright, modern, relatable and engaging and by poets who are very much still alive. Read More

Royal British Legion Install “In Flanders Fields” Poem Across the Land

By | News, Poetry | No Comments
Today is Remembrance Sunday in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth of Nations, put aside as a day to commemorate the British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts. The day is always marked on the second Sunday in November, the Sunday nearest to 11th November, Armistice Day.

Every year the Royal British Legion put on displays across the land, usually incorporating the red poppy, the symbol of Remembrance and this year that display includes a very famous poem. Read More

5 Of Our Favourite Button Poetry Performances

By | Poetry, Video | No Comments
I first came across Button Poetry on Facebook. with almost 1.5 million followers on that social media platform alone they are proving to have worldwide appeal.

Based in Minnesota, the Button Poetry organisation is dedicated to bringing us performance poetry from a host of talented poets. Some of the poets tug at your heart, while others make you laugh at their clever commentary and witty prose. Even if you are not a fan of poetry, performance poetry is more accessible, inclusive, and exciting than you would imagine.

We have picked out 5 of our favourites- a tiny fraction of what is on offer- and implore you to check out some more on their YouTube channel, or via Facebook.

Content warning: Strong language and intense themes.

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Dulce Et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen (Read by Christopher Eccleston)

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Wilfred Edward Salter Owen (18th March 1893 – 4th November 1918) was an English poet and soldier and one of the most well known poets of the First World War. He spoke of the horrors of trenches and gas warfare, bringing his experiences to life, in stark contrast to the popular propaganda of the ‘Glorious War’ spreading around at the time.

Owen was killed in action on 4th November 1918 during the crossing of the Sambre-Oise Canal exactly one week (almost to the hour) before the signing of the Armistice which ended the war. Because of his death, much of his work was published posthumously. Read More

The Private Lives of Authors: Sylvia Plath

By | Authors, Poetry | No Comments
Many people know about Sylvia Plath’s writing, her relationship with Ted Hughes, and her battle with mental illness. A little known fact about Plath, however, was her passion for beekeeping.

Her love for bees began with her father, Otto Plath, who was a bumble bee expert.  Otto Plath’s book Bumblebees and Their Ways was published in 1934 and is still used today. Plath’s father grew up in Germany where he gained the nickname Beinen-Konig, meaning King of the Bees. Boston University recognised his knowledge and passion, giving him a place on their academic staff as the Professor of Entomology.

 

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