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Do men need poems?Is the gender of brawn and 'can-do' really a candidate for honeyed verse?Obviously yes. Through the centuries men seem to dominate the writing of poetry. From books of epics to quatrains of love poetry it seemed to be a man's world. His domain.But take away the stirring deeds of adventure and much of what remains was written in the admiration or pursuit of women.A volume purely for men, to show other facets of their personalities and characters seems to be an obvious choice. One verse fits all is, in fact, far removed from the truth.Men needs words. They need support, understanding as well as goals, ambition and structure. They need purpose, desire; the need to love and be loved.Show more
The most enduring and popular theme of poems and poets is that of love. Can anyone think of a poet who has not in inky lines described their pursuit of love, their hopes for love, their loss of love, their unrequited love, their love of love ..... No.The language of poetry is mysterious but yearns to capture the essence and all aspects of its subject. In 'Love' it finds a difficult mistress. Individual poems can capture individual moments but has any one poem found within its lexicon the formula for the attainment of love? Again, the answer is 'No'.Love changes, its rhythms pause and pulse on the tiniest of things and the biggest of thrills. Within its shades all other feelings, all other emotions, gently reside, waiting for their moment.In these fifty poems the many, many shades of love reveal themselves.....Show more
Sleep. That most mysterious of times. The unconscious hours.Everyone needs it. Whether it's the recommended eight hours, forty winks, cat naps, power naps or other shades of blissful slumber. Sleep offers a respite from the rigors and challenges of the day. A chance for the brain to process what has happened and bring rest and recuperation before the cycle of daytime activity begins again.Also, perchance to dream or, if we are unlucky, the visitation of nightmares.But for some people sleep does not come easy. These can be wakeful hours of frustration or tedium where closing the eyes does not bring the closing of the mind and the slumber so keenly wanted.Part of the problem, in this increasingly frenetic 24/7 world is that we seem reluctant or unable to switch off enough to recuperate; we might miss something. But slumbered hours bring gains in health that far outweigh transitory loss.Our poets from Kipling and Swinburne through Hafiz, James Joyce, Edgar Allan Poe and a pillowful of others explore the wish to rest, to close the eyes and reside in the land of nod.Show more
This group of 19th Century American poets was the first to rival their British counterparts in popularity.Gathered around their New England roots they were also known as the Schoolroom or Household poets, and comprised of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, William Cullen Bryant, John Greenleaf Whittier, James Russell Lowell and Olivier Wendell Holmes Senior. Occasionally Ralph Waldo Emerson was included although his poetic philosophy differed in some key aspects. Each of these poets lived long and productive lives ensuring the longevity of the movement into the early 20th century. Their activities in the academic world, newspapers, the diplomatic service and lecture tours ensured they were constantly in the public eye. Their essential discipline was focused on domestic themes and morality. At the time one of the primary sources of entertainment for the family was to be gathered around the fireplace whilst poems were read.The Fireside Poets did not write for the sake of other poets or critics or for posterity. Instead they wrote for a contemporary audience of general readers. They were mass communicators. Today the Fireside Poets, along with the equivalent British poets of Victorian times, is still regarded as essential verse.Show more
Herman Melville was born in New York City on August 1st, 1819, the third of eight children. At the age of 7 Melville contracted scarlet fever which was to permanently diminish his eyesight. At this time Melville was described as being "very backwards in speech and somewhat slow in comprehension."His father died when he was 12 leaving the family in very straitened times. Just 14 Melville took a job in a bank paying $150 a year that he obtained via his uncle, Peter Gansevoort, who was one of the directors of the New York State Bank.After a failed stint as a surveyor he signed on to go to sea and travelled across the Atlantic to Liverpool and then on further voyages to the Pacific on adventures which would soon become the architecture of his novels. Whilst travelling he joined a mutiny, was jailed, fell in love with a South Pacific beauty and became known as a figure of opposition to the coercion of native Hawaiians to the Christian religion. He drew from these experiences in his books Typee, Omoo, and White-Jacket. These were published as novels, the first initially in London in 1846.By 1851 his masterpiece, Moby Dick, was ready to be published. It is perhaps, and certainly at the time, one of the most ambitious novels ever written. However, it never sold out its initial print run of 3,000 and Melville’s earnings on this masterpiece were a mere $556.37.In succeeding years his reputation waned and he found life increasingly difficult. His family was growing, now four children, and a stable income was essential. With his finances in a disappointing state Melville took the advice of friends that a change in career was called for. For many others public lecturing had proved very rewarding. From late 1857 to 1860, Melville embarked upon three lecture tours, where he spoke mainly on Roman statuary and sightseeing in Rome. In 1876 he was at last able to publish privately his 16,000 line epic poem Clarel. It was to no avail. The book had an initial printing of 350 copies, but sales failed miserably.On December 31st, 1885 Melville was at last able to retire. His wife had inherited several small legacies and provide them with a reasonable income.Herman Melville, novelist, poet, short story writer and essayist, died at his home on September 28rh 1891 from cardiovascular disease.Show more
Today perhaps we all agree that youth is spoilt, ill-disciplined and in search of constant, and instant, gratification. No matter how much we love them, our children, as they mature from child to youth, are pampered. A century ago, and even further back, even the most privileged of youth was rarely indulged. In this volume we look at those years of youth through the eyes and pens of classic poets. They reveal times of hardship, of fear, of love and loss. But youth is idealistic, ready to change the world….but usually ending up in the service of others, be it parents, or patrons, or employers, from a career in trade to the slaughter of war. Life is difficult, a sometimes grim monotone and, it seems, only occasionally splashed with the colour of love, of beauty and ambition.However, one thing we can be certain of though is that these verses speak not only from the head but from the heart.Show more
Charlotte Mary Mew was born on 15th November, 1869 in London to professional parents – her father was responsible for the design of Hampstead Town Hall.Charlotte, one of seven children; three of whom died in early childhood, was educated at Lucy Harrison's School for Girls and attended lectures at University College, London.In 1898 her father died but failed to make provision for the family. Her mother, anxious about the family's social standing, did not want that known even though there was heavy ongoing expense for two other siblings who were in mental institutions.However for Charlotte helping to support this overhead and her mother and sister, Anne, meant that her ambition to be a paid writer must now become a reality. Initially this meant prose - her poetry was to gestate until later in life.During this time Charlotte and Anne made a pact never to marry for fear of passing on insanity to their children.As a writer Charlotte was a modernist, resisting the shackles of Victorian society's suffocating demands on behaviour especially for women. Despite her diminutive figure and dainty feet, she wore trousers, kept her hair short, smoked roll ups, was a Lesbian and tried to appear masculine.Her difficult family life, although her close relationship with Anne was a constant source of comfort and companionship until her death in 1927, was coupled with rejection in her personal life but also provided inspiration for her wonderfully insightful and original poetry that you can read here.Despite her fans including Thomas Hardy, Virginia Woolf and Siegfried Sassoon, Charlotte's works have been shamefully neglected. With your help we hope to put that right with this collection of her best poems.Charlotte Mew died on 24th March in 1928 and was buried at Hampstead Cemetery.Show more
Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in Boston, Massachusetts on May 25th, 1803, the son of Ruth Haskins and the Rev. William Emerson, a Unitarian minister. Emerson was the second of five sons who survived into adulthood.His father died before Emerson was eight and the young boy was raised by his mother and other female members of the family.Emerson's formal schooling began at the Boston Latin School in 1812 when he was 9. In October 1817, at 14, Emerson went to Harvard College. He did not excel as a student but was elected Class Poet in his senior year which required him, as was the custom, to present an original poem on Harvard's Class Day, a month before his graduation on August 29th, 1821. In 1826, faced with poor health, Emerson went to seek out warmer climates and eventually to St. Augustine, Florida, where he took long walks on the beach, and began writing poetry. Initially Emerson made his living as a schoolmaster, then went to Harvard Divinity School which had opened in 1816. Emerson met his first wife, Ellen Louisa Tucker in 1827, and they married when she was 18. They moved to Boston, but Ellen was already sick with tuberculosis. Emerson was now offered the post of junior pastor by Boston’s Second Church and he was ordained in January 1829.Ellen died at the age of 20 in February 1831, after uttering her last words: "I have not forgot the peace and joy." Emerson was devastated and visited her grave in Roxbury daily. He also began to question his faith and began to disagree with the church's methods, and this eventually led to his resignation in 1832. On November 5th, 1833, he made the first of an eventual total of some 1,500 lectures, ‘The Uses of Natural History’, in Boston.He married Lidian Jackson on September 14th, 1835 and the couple moved to Concord. They would have four children.Over the following decades a remarkable career would emerge. He would become renowned as an essayist, lecturer, philosopher, and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. In January 1842 Emerson's first son, Waldo, died of scarlet fever. Emerson wrote of his grief in his classic poem ‘Threnody’ ("For this losing is true dying") published in his 1847 collection ‘Poems’. His poetic work is often overshadowed by the other facets of his career but there is no doubt that its contribution was immense. He remains one of the linchpins of the American romantic movement. Indeed, his works, from essays to poems, have greatly influenced the thinkers, writers and poets that have followed him. Ralph Waldo Emerson died of complications from pneumonia on April 27th, 1882 at the age of 78 in Concord, Massachusetts.Show more
This is a Century for the history books. The Chinese curse of living in interesting times could not be more suited.A small island continued its expansion across the globe bringing both good and evil in its march. Empires clashed. Revolution shook many. The Industrial Age was upon us.Poets spoke up against slavery bringing social and political pressure upon an abominable horror. It was also the Age of the Romantics; Shelley, Keats, Byron lyrically rapture. Tennyson, Arnold, Browning rode a century of sweeping change of dynamism and great verse.Show more
In meteorological terms Spring begins on March 1st and runs through to May 30th. Nature transforms the landscape, colours the skies and begins her epic journey of renewal and offerings. Colour, energy and beauty all abound.Here, each and every day is celebrated with distinct and separate verse; Some poems commemorate the day it was written, others the birth or death of the writer or a particular significant moment that engages poet with date and verse. Our classic poets wax lyrical on each and every day.Show more
Our second season and Nature thrills the world with her mastery of the landscape and its ever-changing hues. Fruits and vegetables grow to perfection. People busy themselves with work and ready themselves for play. They dot the land, visit the shores and swim in its rivers, lakes and seas and much, much more besides.Here, each and every day is celebrated with distinct and separate verse; Some poems commemorate the day it was written, others the birth or death of the writer or a particular significant moment that engages poet with date and verse. Once more our classic poets describe the unfolding days…..Show more
A time for harvest. The rich bounty of grain and fruit given by Nature ensures she has prepared everyone for the coming rigors. One last splash of rich, mature colour as everything ripens; colours of glory and then the slow release of her yearly mantle. Here, each and every day is celebrated with distinct and separate verse; Some poems commemorate the day it was written, others the birth or death of the writer or a particular significant moment that engages poet with date and verse. Our classic poets have much to say in myriad ways….Show more
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