#ComfortAndHope/Hardy’s Wife’s Letters/Zuckerberg’s Poetry Message – Poetry News Roundup April 3rd

Our final news round-up of the week takes a look at more #comfortandhope poems, recently founds letters written by the wife of Thomas Hardy and Mark Zuckerberg”s Facebook poetry message.


Earlier this week we brought you an article about the best-known voices from the BBC who were reading a poem of special importance to them on Radio 4. Yesterday the poem was These Are The Hands by Michael Rosen which was chosen by Sophie Raworth the BBC broadcaster.

This poem is particularly poignant it is published in a book titled These Are The Hands: Poems from the Heart of the NHS and proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the NHS Charities” Covid Appeal.

The poet Michael Rosen is currently in hospital being treated for suspected Coronavirus.

The poem for Wednesday was On Time by Khalil Gibran which was read by Mishal Husain.

What The Wife of Thomas Hardy Thought

At the age of 73, the Victorian novelist and poet Thomas Hardy married for a second time. His new wife was 40 years his junior. The relationship between the two has often been speculated on. However, recently discovered letters indicate that despite the considerable age gap there was “genuine love” in the marriage.

Hardy was no stranger to controversy during his life with his novels Jude the Obscure and Tess of the D’Urbervilles challenging many of the sexual conventions of the time. When he married Florence Dugdale, his secretary, in 1914 there were some eyebrows raised. At the time he had been a widower for just 2 years.

Recently located letters indicated that his new wife was in fact devoted to her husband, and the age difference was no issue at all to the couple. The letters are from Mrs Hardy to a school friend and whilst they indicate the depth of her feelings for her husband there is little suggestion that he returned the feelings, however they were married for 14 years before he died.

The letters which were sent to Harold Barlow were uncovered by his family recently. They speak of the marriage to a man who Mrs Hardy refers to as “the greatest living English writer – Thomas Hardy.” She refers to the marriage as a genuine love match and says that Hardy is one of the “kindest, most humane men in the world.”

The letters were handed to the University of Exeter Hardy’s Correspondents Project where they will be studied and are to be donated to the Dorset museum once this has happened. The couple spent their married life in Dorset where they resided in Max Gate house. They met in 1905 when Hardy was still married to his first wife. Hardy’s first marriage was rather strained in the last few years leading up to his wife’s death in 1912.

Facebook Poetry in a Pandemic

At the beginning of the week Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook uploaded a short film to the social media platform. During the film he reflected on the important part that real people play in the lives of everyone. The film, which includes some stark visuals about the pandemic, included a poem by Kate Tempest, the gritty UK spoken word artist.

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