Poetry

Old mill boards and sea-green slates: Yeats’s tower

On the Yeats trail in Galway

24 January 2015 9:00 am

The Go Galway bus from Dublin sounds an unlikely pleasure, but it is both comfortable and punctual. There is free…

Benjamin Robert Haydon’s portrait of William Wordsworth

Sunday roasts and beaded bubbles: dining with the poets

3 January 2015 9:00 am

In December 1817 Benjamin Robert Haydon — vivid diarist and painter of huge but inferior canvases of historic events —…

"Gulf Stream" by Winslow Homer Photo: Getty

Why radio is a surprisingly good medium for talking about art

22 November 2014 9:00 am

You might think it a fool’s errand to attempt programmes about art on the wireless. How can you talk about…

Poet Wendy Cope Photo: Getty

Wendy Cope on hating school, meeting Billy Graham and enduring Freudian analysis

15 November 2014 9:00 am

A surprise! I took this book from its envelope expecting a fresh collection of Wendy Cope’s poems, and opened it…

Joss Stone visits 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' at the Tower of London  Photo: The Royal British Legion/Charlie Davies

We know that war is hell. But it doesn’t ever make us stop doing it

15 November 2014 9:00 am

There’s a plausible theory — recently rehearsed in the BBC’s excellent two-part documentary The Lion’s Last Roar? — that our…

Ezra Pound in the early 1920s

Ezra Pound – the fascist years

18 October 2014 9:00 am

‘There are the Alps. What is there to say about them?/ They don’t make sense. Fatal glaciers, crags cranks climb,…

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Clive James on his late flowering: ‘I am in the slightly embarrassing position where I write poems saying I’m about to die and then don’t’

4 October 2014 9:00 am

Clive James on poetry, civilisation and the critical benefits of facing leukaemia

Peter Levi Photo: Getty

Peter Levi – poet, priest and life-enhancer

30 August 2014 9:00 am

Hilaire Belloc was once being discussed on some television programme. One of the panellists was Peter Levi. The other critics…

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The biography that makes Philip Larkin human again

23 August 2014 9:00 am

We needn’t apologise for Philip Larkin any longer, says Peter J. Conradi. His place is unmistakeably among the greats

W.B. Yeats and T.S. Eliot Photo: Getty

Sorbet with Rimbaud

23 August 2014 9:00 am

The Bloomsbury of the title refers to the place, not the group. The group didn’t have a poet. ‘I would…

Poet John Clare Photo: Getty

You owe it to yourself to visit John Clare country

2 August 2014 9:00 am

This has been a terrible year for horseflies. It’s bad enough if you’re human: often by the time you swat…

‘A Sounding Line’ (2006–7). Detail of de Waal’s 66 porcelain vessels in white and celadon glazes, Chatsworth House, Derbyshire

How good an artist is Edmund de Waal?

26 July 2014 9:00 am

For Edmund de Waal a ceramic pot has a ‘real life’ that goes beyond functionalism.This handsome book (designed by Atelier…

Portrait of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, with his pet monkey, attributed to Jacob Huysmans

Thug, rapist, poetic visionary: the contradictory Earl of Rochester

28 June 2014 9:00 am

Philip Hensher on the scandalous 17th-century courtier whose hellfire reputation has overshadowed his fine satirical poetry

John Burnside Photo: Getty

My desert island poet

31 May 2014 9:00 am

If I had to be marooned on a desert island with a stranger, that stranger would be John Burnside. Not…

Very bad poems on the Underground

8 March 2014 9:00 am

My husband was surprised by quite a bit when we travelled by Underground in London the other day. Although he…

A learned poet's mystifying mistakes

15 February 2014 9:00 am

I enjoy Poetry Please, but was shouting mildly at the wireless the other day when a northern woman poet was…

Portrait of Vernon Scannell by Charlotte Harris, who ‘tried to catch his half smile, and the sadness and humour in his eyes’

Deserter, wifebeater, great poet: the shame and glory of Vernon Scannell

14 December 2013 9:00 am

Vernon Scannell was a thief, a liar, a deserter, a bigamist, a fraud, an alcoholic, a woman-beater and a coward.…

W H Auden (Photo: H V Drees/Getty Images)

What would Auden have deemed evil in our time? European jingoism

9 November 2013 9:00 am

‘Goodbye to the Mezzogiorno’ was the first Auden poem that Alexander McCall Smith read in his youth. He discovered it…

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Jonathan Aitken's diary: My life as a Christian outreach speaker

26 October 2013 9:00 am

The last time I wrote for The Spectator I was sitting in a prison cell. I sent the then editor…

Basil Bunting, 1980
(Photo: Jonathan Williams/
Basil Bunting Poetry Archive, Durham University Library)

A Strong Song Tows Us, by Richard Burton - review

12 October 2013 9:00 am

How minor is minor? ‘Rings a bell’ was more or less the response of two English literature graduates, now successful…

Dot Wordsworth's week in words: Did William Empson have the first clue what 'bare ruined choirs' meant?

5 October 2013 9:00 am

I am shocked to find that William Empson, famous for his technique of close reading, was no good at reading…

Mary Evans picture library

Music at Midnight, by John Drury - review

28 September 2013 9:00 am

When John Drury, himself an Anglican divine, told James Fenton (the son of a canon of Christ Church) that he…

Six Bad Poets, by Christopher Reid - review

28 September 2013 9:00 am

Is poetry in good enough health to be made fun of in this way? The irony is that this long,…

Seamus Heaney, Recipient of 1995 Nobel Prize for Literature, In Bologna

Seamus Heaney's poems are for Protestants too

7 September 2013 9:00 am

Seamus Heaney’s poetry from the other side of Northern Ireland’s divide

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The views that inspire writers

31 August 2013 9:00 am

Do writers really need inspiring landscapes? Or the opposite?