Wednesday 15 February 2017

BBC "The Nation's Favourite Poems"

BBC "The Nation's Favourite Poems" - 1995

I'm not the biggest reader of poetry. But there was a poetry book in one of my challenges this year, so I thought I ought to tackle one.

A couple of years ago, the BBC asked their viewers and listeners to name their favourite poems and then published this book.

This has been in our house for a while but I only read a poem or two before. So, I picked it up and read a poem now and then, didn't read it back to back, starting with the first and ending with the last but I think I read them all.

Here is a list of all the poems in the book. Check out a few of them, it's worth it.

1 If -, Rudyard Kipling; 1865-1936
2 The Lady of Shalott, Alfred, Lord Tennyson; 1809-92
3 The Listeners, Walter de la Mare; 1873-1956
4 Not Waving but Drowning, Stevie Smith; 1903-1971
5 The Daffodils, William Wordsworth; 1770-1850
6 To Autumn, John Keats; 1795-1821
7 The Lake Isle of Innisfree, W.B. Yeats; 1865-1939
8 Dulce et Decorum Est, Wilfred Owen; 1893-1918
9 Ode to a Nightingale, John Keats; 1795-1821
10 He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven, W.B. Yeats; 1865-1939
11 Remember, Christina Rossetti; 1830-94
12 Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, Thomas Gray; 1716-71
13 Fern Hill, Dylan Thomas; 1914-53
14 Leisure, William Henry Davies; 1871-1940
15 The Highwayman, Alfred Noyes; 1880-1959
16 To His Coy Mistress, Andrew Marvel; 1621-78
17 Dover Beach, Matthew Arnold; 1822-88
18 The Tyger, William Blake; 1757-1827
19 Twelve Songs IX, W.H. Auden; 1907-73
20 Adlestrop, Edward Thomas; 1878-1917
21 The Soldier, Rupert Brooke; 1887-1915
22 Warning, Jenny Joseph; 1932-
23 Sea-Fever, John Masefield; 1878-1967
24 Upon Westminster Bridge. William Wordsworth; 1770-1850
25 Sonnets from the Portuguese XLIII, Elizabeth Barrett Browning; 1806-61
26 The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, T.S. Eliot; 1885-1965
27 Cargoes, John Masefield; 1878-1967
28 Jabberwocky, Lewis Carroll; 1832-98
29 from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Part I, Samuel Taylor Coleridge; 1772-1834
30 Ozymandias of Egypt, Percy Bysshe Shelley; 1792-1822
31 Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost; 1874-1963
32 Abou Ben Adhem, Leigh Hunt; 1784-1859
33 Everyone Sang, Siegfried Sassoon; 1886-1967
34 The Windhover, Gerard Manley Hopkins; 1844-89
35 Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas; 1914-53
36 Sonnet; 18, William Shakespeare; 1564-1616
37 When You Are Old, W.B. Yeats; 1865-1939
38 Lessons of the War (To Alan Michell); 1. Naming of Parts, Henry Reed; 1914-86
39 The Darkling Thrush, Thomas Hardy; 1840-1928
40 Please Mrs Butler, Allan Ahlberg; 1938-
41 Kubla Khan, Samuel Taylor Coleridge; 1772-1834
42 Home-Thoughts, from Abroad, Robert Browning; 1812-89
43 High Flight (An Airman’s Ecstasy), John Gillespie Magee; 1922-41
44 Journey of the Magi, T.S. Eliot; 1885-1965
45 The Owl and the Pussy-Cat, Edward Lear; 1812-88
46 The Glory of the Garden, Rudyard Kipling; 1865-1936
47 The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost; 1874-1963
48 The Way through the Woods, Rudyard Kipling; 1865-1936
49 Anthem for Doomed Youth, Wilfred Owen; 1893-1918
50 Bloody Men, Wendy Cope; 1945-
51 Emmonsail’s Heath in Winter, John Clare; 1793-1864
52 La Figlia Che Piange, T.S. Eliot; 1885-1965
53 The Whitsun Weddings, Philip Larkin; 1922-80
54 from The Ballad of Reading Goal, Oscar Wilde; 1854-1900
55 I Remember, I Remember, Thomas Hood; 1799-1845
56 This Be the Verse, Philip Larkin; 1922-80
57 Snake, D.H. Lawrence; 1885-1930
58 The Great Lover, Rupert Brooke; 1887-1915
59 A Red, Red Rose, Robert Burns; 1759-1796
60 The Sunlight on the Garden, Louis MacNeice; 1907-63
61 The Old Vicarage, Grantchester, Rupert Brooke; 1887-1915
62 Diary of a Church Mouse, John Betjeman; 1906-84
63 Silver, Walter de la Mare; 1873-1956
64 Pied Beauty, Gerard Manley Hopkins; 1844-89
65 Prayer before Birth, Louis MacNeice; 1907-63
66 Macavity: The Mystery Cat, T.S. Eliot; 1885-1965
67 Afterwards, Thomas Hardy; 1840-1928
68 The Donkey, G.K. Chesterton; 1874-1936
69 My Last Duchess, Robert Browning; 1812-89
70 Christmas, John Betjeman; 1906-84
71 The Thought-Fox, Ted Hughes; 1930-98
72 Preludes, T.S. Eliot; 1885-1965
73 Love (III), George Herbert; 1593-1633
74 The Charge of the Light Brigade, Alfred, Lord Tennyson; 1809-92
75 I Am, John Clare; 1793-1864
76 The Hound of Heaven, Francis Thompson; 1859-1907
77 The Passionate Shepherd to his Love, Christopher Marlowe; 1564-93
78 The Song of Wandering Aengus, W.B. Yeats; 1865-1939
79 She Walks in Beauty, George Gordon, Lord Byron; 1788-1824
80 Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry Now, A.E. Housman; 1859-1936
81 The Flea, John Donne; 1572-1631
82 Ducks, F.W. Harvey; 1888-1957
83 An Arundel Tomb, Philip Larkin; 1922-80
84 Sonnet 116, William Shakespeare; 1564-1616
85 Ulysses, Alfred, Lord Tennyson; 1809-92
86 Snow, Louis MacNeice; 1907-63
87 Let Me Die a Youngman’s Death, Roger McGough; 1937-
88 The Ruined Maid, Thomas Hardy; 1840-1928
89 Toilet, Hugo Williams; 1942-
90 Futility, Wilfred Owen; 1893-1918
91 The Raven, Edgar Allan Poe; 1809-49
92 Tam o’ Shanter, Robert Burns; 1759-1796
93 Love’s Philosophy, Percy Bysshe Shelley; 1792-1822
94 from The Song of Hiawatha, H.W. Longfellow; 1807-82
95 God’s Grandeur, Gerard Manley Hopkins; 1844-89
96 Chocolate Cake, Michael Rosen; 1954-
97 Jenny Kissed Me, Leigh Hunt; 1784-1859
98 Blackberry-Picking, Seamus Heaney; 1939-2013
99 from The Prelude, William Wordsworth; 1770-1850
100 Warming Her Pearls, Carol Ann Duffy; 1955-

From the back cover:
"In a nationwide poll to discover Britain's favourite poem, Rudyard Kipling's 'If...' was voted number one. This unique anthology brings together the results of the poll in a collection of the nation's 100 best loved poems. Among the selection are popular classics such as Tennyson's 'The Lady of Shallott' and Wordsworth's 'The Daffodils' alongside contemporary poetry such as Allan Ahlberg's 'Please Mrs Butler' and Jenny Joseph's 'Warning'. Also included is the poignant 'Do not Stand at my Grave and Weep'."


  1. Not being a particular fan of poetry I was surprised how many of these poems I recognized and knew. In fact I can still recite a couple of them (Abou Ben Adam).

    1. It's amazing, isn't it, how many poems we recall from our youth. But I also remember all the lyrics to every single song that I liked back then, so I guess that is the same.

      The son of a friend had recently heard a German poem for the first time and was really surprised that we could all still recite it. LOL

      Anyway, I am glad to have read this, it opens another world.

      Have a good day,

  2. It is like a greatest hits of poetry. It makes me think that poetry was almost the pop music of its day, expressing both the romance and heartbreak of life for those who read it. How far we have come, not necessarily for the good, if we compare the Grammy Awards to the poetry of a century or two ago.

    1. You are right there, it's totally comparable. People had to make their own music, so they also had to recite their own lyrics. Makes us understand better why people were so crazy about poetry back then. And still are.

      And yes, "progression" isn't always good, totally agree. But I guess the poetry and the music of any era show just that, the era. Maybe not a good sign.

      Let's listen to more good music and read more good books, including poetry.