Where to find some poetic repose in exam season

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                  “Oh to be in England

                  Now that April’s there”

Home-Thoughts, From Abroad - Robert Browning

Having been recently released from the icy clutches of the ‘Beast from the East’ and immediately hurtling past the spring equinox, the transition from winter to spring has been all the more discernible this year. From blankets of snow to glorious sunshine, seasonal changes have been at the forefront of our lives recently. They have also been at the forefront of my reading. I’ve returned to a favourite poetry anthology in recent weeks: Poetry Please’s The Seasons.

A slim, accessible collection, perhaps best suited to those who are just beginning to build up their poetry library, The Seasons offers a collection of over 100 brief linguistic snapshots written by our best-loved poets. The nature poems are the favourites of listeners to Radio 4’s Poetry Please, the longest-running request programme for verse (and perhaps a programme worth listening to for those who want to get acquainted with poetry). This collection swells as it is crammed full of fantastic variety. Guiding us through the year, from Hardy to Yeats, passing by Larkin, Chaucer, and Clare along the way, the anthology allows you to experience a year in all its glorious variety in one book. For those who aren’t too bothered about reading chronologically and would prefer to poem hop instead, my personal recommendations are Midwinter (Ian Hamilton), Lines Written in Early Spring (William Wordsworth), and Poppies in October (Sylvia Plath).

It can prove difficult, during a busy Cambridge term, to find the time to read for pleasure and, more often than not, the last thing you want to do after tackling a reading list is to read more. Perhaps, in these circumstances, a poetry anthology is the perfect solution, never demanding more than five minutes of your time, but offering the opportunity to occupy you for hours. Reading poetry can prove to be incredibly relaxing and, personally, I believe that nature poems are some of the most beneficial to read to that end. Escapism paired with accessibility makes The Seasons an ideal read for the busy student.

The Seasons is the perfect companion on those days where I want to distract myself by getting lost in nature, but when I’m feeling too lazy to leave the comfort of my duvet. So, during this stressful examination season, why not fly forward to summer on the back of the wings of Edward Thomas as he visits Adlestrop, or go back to winter with the help of John Clare? Let poetry be your personal time-travel and let the words of our favourite nature poems be your linguistic TARDIS.

 

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