On 24 June 1914, a young man caught the 10.20 train from London to Malvern. At around 12.45 the train stopped at a small country station in Gloucestershire. And what happened then? Well .. nothing much. The station closed in 1966, but this afternoon a special train will be stopping there, unwontedly, to mark the centenary of one of the best-loved poems in the English language. [more inside]
The poet Rosemary Tonks turned her back on the literary world in the mid-1970s, leaving behind her a handful of strange and brilliant poems and a small band of devoted admirers who longed to know what had happened to her. For forty years she disappeared completely, 'evaporated into air like the Cheshire Cat', as Brian Patten remarked in a 2009 BBC documentary, The Poet Who Vanished. Now, with news of her death at the age of 85, the story of her life is starting to emerge.
John Milton was born 400 years ago this year, and several excellent websites have been created to mark the anniversary. Two online exhibitions, Citizen Milton and Living At This Hour, celebrate Milton's achievement with a display of early editions and later artistic interpretations, while Darkness Visible offers an accessible introduction to Paradise Lost for readers encountering the poem for the first time, including an interesting discussion of Milton's influence on Philip Pullman (who responds here with his own tribute to Paradise Lost, 'the greatest poem by England's greatest public poet').
The Poetry Archive claims to be "the world's premier online collection of recordings of poets reading their work". The main page will open a RealAudio file whether you want it to or not, so you may prefer to explore the site from one of the inside pages, like the Historic Recordings page, where you can listen to Robert Browning (reciting "How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix" and forgetting the words halfway through), Alfred Tennyson ("The Charge of the Light Brigade") or W.B. Yeats (sonorously declaiming "The Lake Isle of Innisfree"). Or if you want something more modern, there's Ashbery, Heaney, Logue, Pinter .. (Warning: all links to individual poets have embedded RealAudio files.)