Popular Poetry – Popular Verse – Volume II

Audio Sample

William Shakespeare, John Donne, Rupert Brooke, Alexander Pope, William Wordsworth & Lord Byron

Popular Poetry, Popular Verse – Volume II

Read by Tony Britton, Jasper Britton & Emma Fielding


Nearly 100 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, Donne and Edward Lear.

  • Running Time: 2 h 37 m

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    Digital ISBN:978-1-84379-630-5
    Cat. no.:NA207212
    Download size:38 MB
    Released:September 2000
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Sir Thomas Wyatt
They flee from me
Chidiock Tichborne
Elegy before his execution
Sir Philip Sidney
The bargain
Sir Philip Sidney
He seeks inspiration
Michael Drayton
Since there’s no help
William Shakespeare
Remembrance of things past
William Shakespeare
The marriage of true minds
William Shakespeare
The expense of spirit
King James Bible
from the Song of Solomon
John Donne
The sun rising
John Donne
The good morrow
John Donne
A valediction: forbidding mourning
John Donne
A hymn
George Herbert
George Herbert
Richard Lovelace
To Althea, from prison
William Blake
The sick rose
William Blake
Robert Burns
A man’s a man for a’ that
William Wordsworth
from Tintern Abbey
Lord Byron
When we two parted
Percy Bysshe Shelley
To a skylark
John Clare
I am
John Clare
First Love
John Keats
Ode on a Grecian urn
John Keats
La belle dame sans merci
John Keats
To Autumn
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Blow, bugle, blow
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Break, break, break
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Crossing the bar
Emily Brontë
Last lines
Christina Rossetti
A birthday
Christina Rossetti
Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson
A Narrow Fellow in the Grass
Thomas Hardy
In time of ‘the breaking of nations’
Gerard Manley Hopkins
The Windhover
Gerard Manley Hopkins
No worst, there is none
A.E. Houseman
Loveliest of trees
A.E. Houseman
Epitaph on an army of mercenaries
W.B. Yeats
An Irish airman forsees his death
W.B. Yeats
The second coming
Edward Thomas
Edward Thomas
Lights out
T.E. Hulme
T.E. Hulme
The Embankment
Wilfred Owen
Greater love
D.H. Lawrence
Christopher Marlowe
The passionate shepherd to his love
Sir Walter Raleigh
The Nymph’s reply to the shepherd
William Shakespeare
There is a lady sweet and kind
John Donne
To his mistress going to bed
Robert Herrick
Upon Julia’s clothes
Robert Herrick
To Daffodils
Sir John Suckling
Why so pale and wan
James Graham, Marquis of Montrose
I’ll never love thee more
John Bunyan
The shepherd boy sings in the Valley of Humiliation
John Wilmot, Lord Rochester
Song of a young lady to her ancient lover
William Congreve
False though she be
Alexander Pope
from An essay on Man
Thomas Osbert Mordaunt
Sound the clarion
William Blake
A poison tree
William Wordsworth
Milton, thou shouldst be living at this hour
Sir Walter Scott
Robert Southey
The old man’s comforts
Charles Lamb
The Old Familiar Faces
Walter Savage Landor
Rose Aylmer
Lord Byron
The Destruction of Sennacherib
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
A psalm of life
Edgar Allan Poe
To Helen
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Come into the garden, Maud
Robert Browning
How they brought the good news from Ghent to Aix
Robert Browning
My last duchess
Edward Lear
How pleasant to know Mr Lear
Arthur Hugh Clough
Say not the struggle nought availeth
Walt Whitman
O Captain My Captain
Charles Kingsley
A farewell
Lewis Carroll
The mad gardener’s illusions
Thomas Hardy
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Francis William Bourdillon
The night has a thousand eyes
Dorothy Frances Gurney
God’s garden
Francis Thompson
At Lords
Frederick Delius
Lento, ma non troppo from ‘Two Aquarelles’
J. Milton Hayes
The green eye of the yellow god
A.E. Houseman
When first my way to fair I took
Sir Henry Newbolt
He fell among thieves
Rudyard Kipling
Gunga Din
W.B. Yeats
The lake isle of Innesfree
Alan Seeger
Laurence Binyon
For the Fallen
Rupert Brooke
The Old Vicarage, Grantchester

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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