Treasures all, but there is also a vibrant contemporary strain of poetry - perhaps echoing the outpouring of prose writing on themes of place, the natural world and our relationship to it in recent years. Much of this output feels radical and non-conformist, in the best traditions of the poetry of the past that has weathered well. For instance, new poetry figures large in EarthLines magazine, the journal Terrain and the Dark Mountain network of 'writers, artists and thinkers in search of new stories for troubled times'. The web and new media have also opened up opportunities for poets to share their work more easily. Collectives such as Longbarrow Press ('poetry from the edgelands') utilise on-line audio channels like SoundCloud to give voice to their output; neat symmetry with the oral traditions of poetry, which is generally best appreciated aloud.
Now that I have belatedly 'found' John Clare and Edward Thomas, their work is a touchstone that I keep going back to; recently given further depth by the excellent Now All Roads Lead to France: The Last Years of Edward Thomas by Matthew Hollis, which documents how Thomas, through the seasons leading up to his death at Arras on the Western Front in 1917, realised the latent poetry that had been in his prose writing all along.
Speak of the North, Charlotte Bronte
Speak of the North! A lonely moor
Silent and dark and trackless swells,
The waves of some wild streamlet pour
Hurriedly through its ferny dells...
The Land of Dreams, William Blake
...Oh what Land is the Land of Dreams?
What are its Mountains and what are its Streams?
...Father, oh father! what do we here
In this Land of unbelief & fear?
The Land of Dreams is better far,
Above the light of the Morning Star.
The Reader Looks Up, Arthur Freeman
See now how the English landscape lies
like an anthology open in the sun -
a rock-bound book, of even leaves
thumbed and unthumbed, of parts begun
and left undone, uncut, unread...