A Map Of British Poetry

Poet Laureate Andrew Motion presents an exploration of the landscapes of British poetry from its earliest days to the present.

Episodes

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01Borders2005022020050226

The past has drawn lines on maps; the dead cross over into another country...

can poets speak across borders?

With contributions from Declan McGonagle and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams and poems by Jackie Kay, Ezra Pound, Seamus Heaney, Edward Thomas, Anne Ridler, Henry Vaughan, Dylan Thomas and Emily Bronte.

The readers are: Kenneth Cranham, Sir Tom Courtenay, Simon Russell Beale, Juliet Stevenson and Diana Bishop.

02Heartlands2005022720050305

Shakespeare's Warwickshire feels to some like the literary heart of Britain - should it? Do we still crave heartlands? Can we make them new?

With contributions from Jonathan Bate and Sukhdev Sandhu and poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins, William Langland, Anne Stevenson, William Barnes, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Ivor Gurney, Geoffrey Hill, AE Housman, Philip Larkin and Edward Thomas.

The readers are David Bradley, Trevor Eaton, Emma Fielding, Iain Glen, Pete Postlethwaite, Sonia Ritter, Simon Russell Beale and Ray Sargeant.

Music is by Malcolm Lindsay.

03Landscapes Of The Mind2005030620050312

From lost roads in the woods to fruity goblins tricking innocent girls, the landscape of British poetry is as much made up as real.

Why are we drawn to these make believe places?

  • additional cast....

    contributions from Marina Warner and jonathan ree and poems by Christina Rossetti, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Lewis Carroll, s t coleridge and Rudyard Kipling

  • readers: Tom Courtenay, Kenneth Cranham, iain glen, Richard Holmes and Juliet Stevenson

  • 04Mountains2005031320050319

    Did Wordsworth invent the Lake District? Can we see a mountain without thinking of him and the other Romantic poets who revelled in the sublime? Do peaks diminish us or raise us up?

  • additional cast....

    contributions from robert macfarlane and poems by keats, wordsworth, Gerard Manley Hopkins, shelley, ivor gurney, ae housman and W H Auden

  • readers: Tom Courtenay, Kenneth Cranham, iain glen, Jamie Glover, pete postlethwaite and Simon Russell Beale

  • 05Labyrinths2005032020050326

    Our experience of cities as visitors and residents often makes us think of them as labyrinths.

    They make us feel delightfully baffled and maddeningly lost.

    How have poets responded to them?

  • additional cast....

    contributions from lynda neade and nigel coates and poems by William Blake, Ts Eliot, Louis Macneice, ua fanthorpe, patience agbabi and ws graham

  • music is provided by malcolm lindsay
  • read by iain glen and Jamie Glover

  • 06Coasts And Edges2005032720050402

    How has our island character found its way into our poetry? How was the sea seen before it was thought of as sublime? Do modern connections with the rest of the world mean we no longer write sea poems?

    With contributions from Barry Cunliffe and Adam Nicolson and poems by Matthew Arnold, Ezra Pound, John Masefield, Stevie Smith, Coleridge, Daljit Nagra, Sylvia Plath and Tennyson.

  • read by iain glen, bonnie hurren, anthony hyde, Philip Madoc, john nettles and Simon Russell Beale
  • music by....

    malcolm lindsay

  • 07Not England2005040320050409

    Much of British poetry is made up of poems that are nourished by a landscape that is decidedly not ENGLAND.

    How have these places come into our poetry and what have they brought?

    With contributions from Neal Ascherson and Joyce Macmillan and poems by Gwyneth Lewis, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Dylan Thomas, Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, Robert Burns, Kathleen Jamie, Patrick Kavanagh and Grace Nichols.

    Music by Malcolm Lindsay.

    08Flatlands2005041020050416

    What inspiration is there in all that sky? Can flat places have as much character as hills or coasts? Do poets crouch or stand tall?

    With contributions from John Barrell and Richard Mabey and poems by John Clare, John Keats, W H Auden, Philip Larkin and Lavinia Greenlaw.

    Reader: Tom Courteney

    Music: Malcolm Lindsay.

    09Crowds And Cities2005041720050423

    Crowded city streets can be oppressive and energising and poets have given us both love and hate poems to the city.

    With contributions from Steve Pile and Elizabeth Wilson and poems by George Eliot, Ts Eliot, John Gay, Roy Fisher, Oscar Wilde, Rosemary Tonks, John Betjeman, Maura Dooley and William Wordsworth.

    Readers: Juliet Stevenson, Kenneth Cranham, Jamie Glover and Tom Courtenay.

    9/12.

    Crowds and Cities

    10Exile And Rootlessness2005042420050430

    Do we have a clearer sense of here by going there?

    This programme looks at ideas such as home seen from abroad; the warm south - a refuge for free thinking, free living, free love? The grand tour; Britain as a home for the exiled of other cultures.

    With contributions from Tom Phillips and Abdulrazak Gurnah, and poems by Robert Browning, Arthur Hugh Clough, Paul Muldoon, Edward Lear, John Donne, Moniza Alvi, DH Lawrence, and Sir Walter Raleigh.

    Read by Simon Russell Beale, Iain Glen, Kenneth Cranham, Tom Courtenay and Jamie Glover

    11Rivers2005050120050507

    Thames, Dee, Clyde, Mersey, Humber, Avon - the rivers of Britain run blue on our maps and through our poetry, drenching it in sweet and salty water and offering a perfect image of the journey of our lives.

    With contributions from Roger Deakin and Peter Randall-Page and poems by John Milton, Ted Hughes, Ts Eliot, William Wordsworth, Christopher Marlowe, Walter De La Mare, Alice Oswald and Gerard Manley Hopkins.

    The readers are Kenneth Cranham, Jamie Glover and Simon Russell Beale

    12 LASTOff The Map2005050820050514

    This programme features poetry suggested by listeners, with a new re-telling by Simon Armitage of the story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.