Popular Poetry

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William Shakespeare, John Milton, William Blake, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron & Percy Bysshe Shelley

Popular Poetry, Popular Verse – Volume I

Read by Anton Lesser & Simon Russell Beale


With more than 80 of the most popular and loved poems in the English language, this collection is one of the most comprehensive anthologies of its kind available. It covers a remarkable range, from the striking vision of Blake and Shelley and the insights of Keats to lighter but equally memorable verse by Tennyson, Kipling, G.K. Chesterton and Edward Lear.

  • Running Time: 2 h 39 m

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    Digital ISBN:978-1-84379-629-9
    Cat. no.:NA201612
    Download size:38 MB
    Released:October 2000
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William Shakespeare
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day
William Shakespeare
When in the chronicle of wasted time
William Shakespeare
When in disgrace with Fortune and men’s eyes
Sir Walter Raleigh
A Lover’s Complaint
Sir Walter Raleigh
The author’s Epitaph, made by himself
John Donne
Death be not proud
Andrew Marvell
To his coy mistress
John Milton
On his blindness
Robert Herrick
To the Virgin
Robert Herrick
Delight in Disorder
Richard Lovelace
To Lucasta
Thomas Gray
An elegy written in a Country Church-Yard
William Blake
Tyger Tyger
William Blake
Robert Burns
My luv’s like a red red rose
William Wordsworth
I wandered lonely as a cloud
William Wordsworth
My heart leaps up when I behold
William Wordsworth
I travelled among unknown men
William Wordsworth
She dwelt among the untrodden ways
William Wordsworth
A Slumber did my spirit seal
William Wordsworth
The world is too much with us
Lord Byron
She walks in beauty
Lord Byron
So we’ll go no more a-roving
Percy Bysshe Shelley
John Keats
Ode to a Nightingale
Walter Savage Landor
Robert Browning
Home thoughs abroad
Robert Browning
Meeting at Night
Robert Browning
Parting at Morning
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
How do I love thee
Lord Tennyson
Lord Tennyson
Now sleeps the crimson petal
Christina Rossetti
When I am dead
Matthew Arnold
Dover Beach
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Pied Beauty
Thomas Hardy
The Darkling Thrush
Rudyard Kipling
William Butler Yeats
He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
William Butler Yeats
When you are old and grey
Edward Thomas
A.E. Houseman
From a Shropshire Lad
Rupert Brooke
Wilfred Owen
Strange Meeting
Henry King
The Pessimist
Ben Jonson
Song To Celia
William Cowper
Oliver Goldsmith
When lovely woman stoops to folly
William Wordsworth
Westminster Bridge
Sir Walter Scott
Thomas Campbell
Ye mariners of England
Leigh Hunt
Abou Ben Adhem
Leigh Hunt
Jenny Kissed Me
Charles Wolfe
The Burial of Sir John Moore after Corunna
John Keats
There Was A Naughty Boy
Thomas Hood
I remember I remember
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The Wreck of the Hesperus
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
The Charge of the Light Brigade
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
The Lady of Shalott
Robert Browning
Home thoughts, from the sea
Robert Browning
Pippa Passes
William Johnson Cory
Arthur William Edgar O’Shaughnessy
Edward Lear
Edward Lear
The Owl and the Pussy Cat
Lewis Carroll
Father William
Lewis Carroll
The Walrus and the Carpenter
Lewis Carroll
Henry Newbolt
Vitae Lampada
Henry Newbolt
Drake’s Drum
W.E. Henley
Ernest Dowson
Non sum qualis
Ernest Dowson
Vitae summa brevis
Laurence Binyon
Invocation to youth
Thomas Hardy
Wagtail and Baby
Rudyard Kipling
Rudyard Kipling
Rudyard Kipling
The Female of the Species
G.K. Chesterton
The Donkey
G.K. Chesterton
The Rolling English Road
William H. Davies
William Butler Yeats
Down by the salley gardens
W.S. Gilbert
The Nightmare

Booklet Notes

Verse of some kind seems to be common to all historical cultures. It begins as a craft, a way of ordering knowledge and experience for easy memorising and maximum impact.

However, as it is practised for its own sake it becomes something more. The play of sound and rhythm with observation and narrative, of vocabulary and syntax with thought and feeling and metaphor, can develop such a grace and complexity and precision that we have to call it something different. It becomes poetry. And of all the languages of the world, English is, by common consent, the richest and most deeply worked mine for this most precious commodity.

However, not all the verse that sticks in the mind is twenty-two carat poetry. Some of our best loved versifiers – notably Victorian ones – indefatigably shovelled out irredeemably low-grade ore which they fashioned into inspiring, moralising or sentimental recitation pieces. These became, however, so highly valued that they have acquired the warm and glowing sheen of sheer familiarity. They constitute, in fact, some of our favourite verse. Children used to be made to learn them by heart, and somewhere in the mind, if not the heart, they remain. This is, after all, what verse is designed to do – to be remembered.

The result is that while our poetic tradition has its roomfuls of glass fronted display cabinets crammed with priceless heirlooms, it also has its lumber room. And sometimes the lumber room is where we want to be – turning up dusty, half-forgotten toys and treasures and nick-nacks, long-neglected but once lovingly displayed on a crowded mantelpiece.

For this collection we have dusted down a few of these old favourites from the lumber room, but at the same time we have had to recognise that some of them show their age, and don’t appear to their best advantage alongside the real collectors’ items, the pieces that are quite untouched by time. Further, the effect of time on some of the poetic brassware of the Victorian age is that it leaves on it quite a nice verdigris of irony. And while this irony is an essential part of our appreciation of these very heavy pieces, we don’t want it to spread and interfere with the finely balanced and delicately traced effects of the real poetry.

So instead of organising this anthology alphabetically or altogether chronologically, or even according to subject matter, we have taken the unfashionable step of dividing up our material according to the poetic ambition and achievement embodied in each piece. To the lumber room collection we have added lightweight verse from earlier ages, together with one or two classic examples of what is called ‘light verse’. This then leaves the poetry which really is in a class of its own – but also carried in our minds as half-remembered scraps – where it belongs: in a class of its own.

As with all such principles of organisation there are borderline cases which in themselves might seem to make a nonsense of the whole exercise, particularly perhaps with the Elizabethans. However, the great poets who kick off the ‘favourite verse’ collection – Marlowe, Raleigh and Shakespeare – are here in relaxed, expansive mood. By contrast, the otherwise unknown poet Chidiock Tichborne, whose ‘Elegy’ opens the batting for the ‘favourite poetry’ collection along with another poet who faced execution on the block, Thomas Wyatt, well illustrate Dr. Johnson’s maxim that death concentrates the mind wonderfully. Our hope is that these two collections, in their different ways, will remind the listener of at least some of the rewards and pleasures we have inherited in our great poetry and our splendid verse.

Notes by Duncan Steen

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