Poet and author Owen Sheers presents a series in which he explores six great works of poetry set in the British landscape.
Poet and author Owen Sheers presents a series in which he explores six great works of poetry set in the British landscape. Each poem explores a sense of place and identity across Britain and opens the doors to captivating stories about the places and the lives of the poets themselves. Louis MacNeice was one of the big guns of British poetry in the 1930s and 40s but is less well known today. Sheers takes a stroll into one of his finest poems, called simply Woods, a brilliant evocation of one of the most English landscapes but also a poem that takes you into the life and mind of a fascinating poet. MacNeice was born and brought up in Ireland until the age of nine, when soon after the death of his mother he was sent to school in England. His split identity was to become a major preoccupation for the rest of his life. In Woods, the middle-aged MacNeice takes stock of who he has become, unsure that he taken the right path. It is wonderful lyrical, melancholic writing that makes a powerful case for the restoration of this poet's reputation Includes contributions from poets Dannie Abse and Paul Farley as well as actress Jill Balcon, who knew MacNeice and was married to another great poet of the era, Cecil Day-Lewis.
Poet and author Owen Sheers presents a series in which he explores six great works of poetry set in the British landscape. Each poem explores a sense of place and identity across Britain and opens the doors to captivating stories about the places and the lives of the poets themselves. This episode features Composed upon Westminster Bridge by William Wordsworth. In 1802, Wordsworth, the great Romantic poet of nature and the man famous for writing about the Lake District, daffodils and clouds, penned a short but electrifying poem about the stinking, filthy, heaving city of London. In fact, the poem was a captivating, sublime portrait of the city at dawn which still has the power to catch one's breath. Sheers investigates what Wordsworth was doing when he wrote the poem on a summer morning in 1802, and uncovers a story that involves three different women. Wordsworth lived in Grasmere in the Lake District, sharing a small cottage in an unusual domestic arrangement with his sister Dorothy. In the spring of that year he decided to marry an old schoolfriend, Mary Hutchinson. However, in order to do so he first needed to clear the air with his French ex-girlfriend and mother of his daughter Caroline, a nine-year-old girl he had yet to meet. In July 1802, William and Dorothy set out from Grasmere to Calais via London on the intriguing journey that would lead them across the bridge. Sheers follows their journey, discovers how the poem came into existence and examines exactly what Wordsworth wrote. He talks to Wordsworth fans including that epitome of Northern cool, poet Simon Armitage, the writer-in-residence at the Wordsworth Trust, Adam O'Riordan, and some of the commuters who cross Westminster Bridge every morning on their way to work.