Actor, poet and broadcaster Elvis McGonagall (aka Richard Smith) examines the enduring popularity of A.E.
Housman in a journey through the Shropshire of his most famous sequence of poems.
In his previous programme 'Doggerel Bard' on satirical verse a remarkably diverse range of poets including Tony Harrison, Wendy Cope and John Cooper Clarke all cited Housman as a primary influence.
The enduring popularity of this private, intellectual and academic poet is remarkable as much for its breadth of appeal as for its longevity.
'Beacons and Blue remembered Hills' takes Housman's longest sequence (written when Housman was in London) to the places that the poet was remembering as he explored some of the themes at the core of his work.
At the heart of 'A Shropshire Lad' is a real sense of Englishness, unusual in a collection that concerns itself with personal and political themes in such a raw and vulnerable way - loss, grief, suicide, sexuality, nature and joy.
What did the settings of 'A Shropshire Lad' - Shropshire and Worcestershire - mean to Housman?
Elvis visits many of the locations that inspired Housman's verse - London, Bromsgrove, Bredon Hill, Ludlow, The Wrekin and talks to people along the way about these evocative landscapes, asking them to read their favourite poems on the way.
Contributors include Andrew Motion, Martin Newell, Wendy Cope, Colin Dexter, Antique Roadshow's Henry Sandon and the many Housman fans of Worcestershire and Shropshire.
Elvis attempts to meet Housman himself, listens to the bells of Bredon, goes in search of the loveliest of cherry trees and even finds poetry in a Brewery.
Performance poet Elvis McGonagall is a familiar voice on Radio 4 as a regular guest poet on Saturday Live.
Producer: Frank Stirling.
Elvis McGonagall examines the enduring popularity of AE Housman's A Shropshire Lad.