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England's Favourite Poems

England's Favourite Poems

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Spirit of England

Ref: CDG1083

30 tracks 60 minutes
Click here to preview trk 3

Read by Margaret Howard

An inspiring anthology of classics such as Wordsworth's 'Upon Westminster Bridge', Kipling's 'If', Masefield's evocative 'Sea fever' and Eliot's affectionate portrayal of 'Gus, the Theatre Cat' interpsersed with gentle music.

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England's Favourite Poems
Read by Margaret Howard

An anthology of England's favourite poems chosen and read by broadcaster Margaret Howard, with Bernard Palmer and David Bellan. The programme include classic and well-known works interspersed with appropriate piano music.

1 The Listeners Walter de la Mare (1873-1956)
2 Upon Westminster Bridge William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
3 Ode to Autumn John Keats (1795-1821)
4 Music: Nocturne in E flat major Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849)

5 I remember I remember Thomas Hood (1799-1845)
6 How do I love thee? Elisabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)
7 Music: Dreaming Robert Schumann (1810-1856)

8 Blow, bugle, blow Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)
9 Home thoughts from abroad Robert Browning (1812-1889)
10 Kubla Khan Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)
11 Pied beauty Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)
12 Music: Butterflies Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)

13 When you are old
14 Sea Fever John Masefield (1878-1967)
15 Do not go gentle Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)
16 The way through the woods Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)
17 Music: Little bird Edvard Grieg

18 If Rudyard Kipling
19 Music: Presto agitato Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827)
from 'Moonlight' Sonata
20 The old vicarage Rupert Brooke (1887-1915)

21 Gus the theatre cat TS Eliot (1888-1965)
22 Music: 'Kitty' waltz Gabriel Fauré

23 Welsh incident Robert Graves (1895-1985)
24 Not waving but drowning Stevie Smith (1902-1971)
25 When I am old Jenny Joseph (b. 1932)
26 What is this life William Henry Davies (1871-1940)
27 I wandered lonely as a cloud William Wordsworth
28Remember me Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-94)
29 Stop all the clocks WH Auden (1907-1973)
30 Adelstrop Edward Thomas (1878-1917)


Margaret Howard
Bernard Palmer
David Bellan

Music played by Martin Souter

Published by Classical Communications Ltd
P & C 2004 Classical Communications Ltd
Image: Quiet James Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836-1902) © Christie's Images Ltd.
Made in Great Britain

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England's Favourite Poems
Read by Margaret Howard

This album assembles a collection of poetry, chosen from among the favourite poems of the English-speaking world, and from personal favourites of Margaret Howard and her companion readers. Poetry is expressive and emotional, and we have amplified the emotions and expressivity we have found in these poems by adding suitable music to the programme. The music serves partly as illustration, and partly as reflection of the words we hear. We also have used some sound effects to add a certain 'atmosphere', and take our readings beyond the everyday. We hope that our additions to the spoken word will help listeners, either by guiding their thoughts, or simply producing further musical pleasure beyond that of the words themselves. For we must not forget that, while there are those differences between words and music, there are nevertheless similarities too: words when spoken have a language and rhythm of their own, and thus, as we hear or read them, they create their own music.

Words and music are curious bedfellows. Words are theoretically precise, and are designed to express the thoughts of the speaker or writer as accurately as the author's own grasp of language and that of their listener or reader will allow. Composers of music have devoted much time and energy in the last few centuries to turning their musical art into as precise an expressive form as words, and would argue that the very nature of music, which bypasses spoken language, gives it a very direct, intuitive form of communication, not dependent upon a spoken language. Thus listeners from different nations or continents can hear the same meaning in a piece - or their own interpretation of some universal meaning - without the need either to speak the same language as the composer, or even to be from a similar cultural background. Music can thus amplify understanding of words. This may, in fact, be why opera has survived as a genre for centuries, despite the ridicule to which it is periodically subjected. Our programme is not operatic in any way, of course, but nevertheless, the combination of music and the spoken word is designed for the one to complement the other.

As I listen to the selection of poems on this album I am struck that many of them feature a landscape or scene. A physical place (or even an imagined one) becomes the anchor point for a story, or an emotional description of events in the life (or soul) of the author, or a further journey into an inner landscape. Walter de la Mare's 'ferny forest floor' is instantly clear to the mind's eye, but the poet leads us much further than that, upon a psychological journey and into a strange world of ghosts and darkness. Wordsworth starts out 'Upon Westminster Bridge', but soon takes us much further away. To dwellers in the very early twenty first century Wordsworth's London would doubtless seem calm and quiet in comparison with our own experiences, but for the Lakeland composer, the big city was noisy and bustling, certainly compared with the Grasmere home he loved so much. It proved to be an inspirational starting point for some universal truths. The world of Kubla Khan is conjured up in so few words, as is the 'pied beauty' of Manley Hopkins or Kipling's 'Way through the woods'.

We hope that you will enjoy this journey of poetry and music and that the combination of the two will bring you much pleasure.

Martin Souter, executive producer

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