Popular Poetry

Audio Sample

William Shakespeare, John Donne, Rupert Brooke, Alexander Pope, William Wordsworth & Lord Byron

Popular Poetry, Popular Verse – Volume II

Read by Tony Britton, Jasper Britton & Emma Fielding


Nearly 100 of the most popular and loved poems in the English language, this collection is one of the most comprehensive anthologies of its kind available. It covers a remarkable range, from the striking vision of Blake and Shelley and the insights of Keats to lighter but equally memorable verse by Tennyson, Donne and Edward Lear.

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    Running Time: 2 h 37 m

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    Digital ISBN:978-184-379-630-5
    Cat. no.:NA207212
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You May Also Enjoy
Included in this title
Sir Thomas Wyatt They flee from me
Chidiock Tichborne Elegy before his execution
Sir Philip Sidney The bargain
Sir Philip Sidney He seeks inspiration
Michael Drayton Since there’s no help
William Shakespeare Remembrance of things past
William Shakespeare The marriage of true minds
William Shakespeare The expense of spirit
King James Bible from the Song of Solomon
John Donne The sun rising
John Donne The good morrow
John Donne A valediction: forbidding mourning
John Donne A hymn
George Herbert Prayer
George Herbert Virtue
Richard Lovelace To Althea, from prison
William Blake The sick rose
William Blake Eternity
Robert Burns A man’s a man for a’ that
William Wordsworth from Tintern Abbey
Lord Byron When we two parted
Percy Bysshe Shelley To a skylark
John Clare I am
John Clare First Love
John Keats Ode on a Grecian urn
John Keats La belle dame sans merci
John Keats To Autumn
Alfred, Lord Tennyson Blow, bugle, blow
Alfred, Lord Tennyson Break, break, break
Alfred, Lord Tennyson Crossing the bar
Emily Brontë Last lines
Christina Rossetti A birthday
Christina Rossetti Remember
Emily Dickinson Parting
Emily Dickinson A Narrow Fellow in the Grass
Thomas Hardy In time of ‘the breaking of nations’
Gerard Manley Hopkins The Windhover
Gerard Manley Hopkins No worst, there is none
A.E. Houseman Loveliest of trees
A.E. Houseman Epitaph on an army of mercenaries
W.B. Yeats An Irish airman forsees his death
W.B. Yeats The second coming
Edward Thomas Tears
Edward Thomas Lights out
T.E. Hulme Autumn
T.E. Hulme The Embankment
Wilfred Owen Greater love
D.H. Lawrence Piano
Christopher Marlowe The passionate shepherd to his love
Sir Walter Raleigh The Nymph’s reply to the shepherd
William Shakespeare Winter
Anon There is a lady sweet and kind
John Donne To his mistress going to bed
Robert Herrick Upon Julia’s clothes
Robert Herrick To Daffodils
Sir John Suckling Why so pale and wan
James Graham, Marquis of Montrose I’ll never love thee more
John Bunyan The shepherd boy sings in the Valley of Humiliation
John Wilmot, Lord Rochester Song of a young lady to her ancient lover
William Congreve False though she be
Alexander Pope from An essay on Man
Thomas Osbert Mordaunt Sound the clarion
William Blake A poison tree
William Wordsworth Milton, thou shouldst be living at this hour
Sir Walter Scott Innominatus
Robert Southey The old man’s comforts
Charles Lamb The Old Familiar Faces
Walter Savage Landor Rose Aylmer
Lord Byron The Destruction of Sennacherib
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow A psalm of life
Edgar Allan Poe To Helen
Alfred, Lord Tennyson Come into the garden, Maud
Robert Browning How they brought the good news from Ghent to Aix
Robert Browning My last duchess
Edward Lear How pleasant to know Mr Lear
Arthur Hugh Clough Say not the struggle nought availeth
Walt Whitman O Captain My Captain
Charles Kingsley A farewell
Lewis Carroll The mad gardener’s illusions
Thomas Hardy Weathers
Ella Wheeler Wilcox Solitude
Francis William Bourdillon The night has a thousand eyes
Dorothy Frances Gurney God’s garden
Francis Thompson At Lords
Frederick Delius Lento, ma non troppo from ‘Two Aquarelles’
J. Milton Hayes The green eye of the yellow god
A.E. Houseman When first my way to fair I took
Sir Henry Newbolt He fell among thieves
Rudyard Kipling Gunga Din
W.B. Yeats The lake isle of Innesfree
Alan Seeger Rendezvous
Laurence Binyon For the Fallen
Rupert Brooke The Old Vicarage, Grantchester

Booklet Notes

Verse of some kind seems to be common to all historical cultures. It begins as a craft, a way of ordering knowledge and experience for easy memorising and maximum impact.

However, as it is practised for its own sake it becomes something more. The play of sound and rhythm with observation and narrative, of vocabulary and syntax with thought and feeling and metaphor, can develop such a grace and complexity and precision that we have to call it something different. It becomes poetry. And of all the languages of the world, English is, by common consent, the richest and most deeply worked mine for this most precious commodity.

However, not all the verse that sticks in the mind is twenty-two carat poetry. Some of our best loved versifiers – notably Victorian ones – indefatigably shovelled out irredeemably low-grade ore which they fashioned into inspiring, moralising or sentimental recitation pieces. These became, however, so highly valued that they have acquired the warm and glowing sheen of sheer familiarity. They constitute, in fact, some of our favourite verse. Children used to be made to learn them by heart, and somewhere in the mind, if not the heart, they remain. This is, after all, what verse is designed to do – to be remembered.

The result is that while our poetic tradition has its roomfuls of glass fronted display cabinets crammed with priceless heirlooms, it also has its lumber room. And sometimes the lumber room is where we want to be – turning up dusty, half-forgotten toys and treasures and nick-nacks, long-neglected but once lovingly displayed on a crowded mantelpiece.

For this collection we have dusted down a few of these old favourites from the lumber room, but at the same time we have had to recognise that some of them show their age, and don’t appear to their best advantage alongside the real collectors’ items, the pieces that are quite untouched by time. Further, the effect of time on some of the poetic brassware of the Victorian age is that it leaves on it quite a nice verdigris of irony. And while this irony is an essential part of our appreciation of these very heavy pieces, we don’t want it to spread and interfere with the finely balanced and delicately traced effects of the real poetry.

So instead of organising this anthology alphabetically or altogether chronologically, or even according to subject matter, we have taken the unfashionable step of dividing up our material according to the poetic ambition and achievement embodied in each piece. To the lumber room collection we have added lightweight verse from earlier ages, together with one or two classic examples of what is called ‘light verse’. This then leaves the poetry which really is in a class of its own – but also carried in our minds as half-remembered scraps – where it belongs: in a class of its own.

As with all such principles of organisation there are borderline cases which in themselves might seem to make a nonsense of the whole exercise, particularly perhaps with the Elizabethans. However, the great poets who kick off the ‘favourite verse’ collection – Marlowe, Raleigh and Shakespeare – are here in relaxed, expansive mood. By contrast, the otherwise unknown poet Chidiock Tichborne, whose ‘Elegy’ opens the batting for the ‘favourite poetry’ collection along with another poet who faced execution on the block, Thomas Wyatt, well illustrate Dr. Johnson’s maxim that death concentrates the mind wonderfully. Our hope is that these two collections, in their different ways, will remind the listener of at least some of the rewards and pleasures we have inherited in our great poetry and our splendid verse.

Notes by Duncan Steen

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