Six Poets:Hardy to Larkin

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Did you know? Thomas Hardy dedicated the last 30 years of his life to poetry only after his final novel, Jude the Obscure, was slated by critics and the book publicly burned by a bishop; or that Philip Larkin’s final long poem, Aubade, was written at a time when “poetry had abandoned him.”

These are just some of the poetry insights to be found in Alan Bennett’s Anthology, Six Poets –  Hardy to Larkin. The book is a gem, but would you expect anything different from one of England’s greatest writers choosing poems from six of his favourite poets?

Six Poets is more than just a collection of poetry. Bennett’s commentary and quirky insights, on the poets and the poems, bring the collection to life. They take you to the writing desks of Hardy, Housman, Betjeman, Auden, MacNeice and Larkin and give some background on the lives and experiences inspiring the poems. As Bennett says, “some knowledge of the poet’s life must add to the pleasure and understanding of his or her poetry.”

The book is suitable for experienced poetry lovers and beginners alike and is one to be savoured in a single sitting or, dipped in an out of as and when the mood takes. It is a book I would highly recommend to any poetry enthusiast.

Here is a taste from Thomas Hardy, written at the age of 89 when religion, according to Bennett, offered no consolation.

Christmas:1924

“Peace upon earth!” was said. We sing it,
And pay a million priests to bring it.
After two thousand years of mass
We’ve got as far as poison-gas.

19 Comments

I didn’t know. Thanks for this post.

Liked by 1 person

Thanks for the positive review, Davy. I must follow up on your recommendation. I feel a certain kinship with my contemporary fellow Tyke – from similar working class background and a similarly educated grammar school lad.

Liked by 1 person

Excellent post, Davy! I agree that knowing some “back story” on the poets would be very interesting, and add to the reading of their works. Sad, about Thomas Hardy…

Liked by 1 person

Great review, Dave – I have vague recollections of the 90s TV series. I’m expanding my reading lists this year and added this one to the list.

Liked by 1 person

I doubt if this book is available in our local bookstore here…i wish it will be…gonna check it out..

Liked by 1 person

OOooooh! This sounds so nice! I am planning to read more poetry books this year. ❤

Liked by 1 person

Sounds great. I’m putting it on my wish list right now.

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Reblogged this on Creative Writing Reblogged.

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