Britain’s favourite countryside poems stirs controversy

August 22nd, 2010 - 12:15 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Aug 22 (IANS) A search for Britain’s favourite poem on the countryside has stirred a controversy as it has left out literary icons like Shakespeare and Wordsworth.
The National Trust has shortlisted 10 poems that include lesser known poems but has omitted those of William Shakespeare and William Wordsworth, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Jo Bell, a poet who made the final selection, said unlike former popular poem contests, she did not want to “play the same old records”. Instead she has chosen romantic poems that show the darker side of the countryside as well as its beauty.

The 10 chosen poems will feature on the National Trust website and the public will be able to vote on their favourite.

“Binsey Poplars” by Gerard Manley Hopkins is an “angry poem” about the felling of trees in Oxfordshire, while the anonymous “Sweet Suffolk Owle” describes the bird’s song as a “dirge for dying souls”.

Many of the poems, such as “The Quiet Life” by Alexander Pope, are a reflection on the writer and their philosophy, as well as the scene they are describing.

Fiona Sampson, editor of “Poetry Review”, however, said the list does not include poems about the modern challenges to the countryside like climate change, intensive farming and ownership.

“At the end of the day, it is not going to be all the best countryside poems because only 10 have been chosen. But it is a door opener to reading more poetry about the landscape,” she said.

The ten poems shortlisted are:

1. “The Quiet Life” by Alexander Pope

2. “Milking Time” by Robert Bloomfield

3. “On a Lane in Spring” by John Clare

4. “Sweet Suffolke Owle” - Anonymous

5. “Spring Song” by John Davidson

6. “I Watched a Blackbird” by Thomas Hardy

7. “The Lambs of Grasmere” by Christina Rossetti

8. “The Herefordshire Landscape” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

9. “Binsey Poplars” by Gerard Manley Hopkins

10. “By Severn” by Ivor Gurney

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