On My Poetic Side, today we take a look at a memorial to Shelley and the rise of the Christmas carol that started life as a poem.
Romantic Poet Shelley to be Remembered with Memorial
The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley was one of the significant figures of the English Romantic movement. Now his hometown in Horsham, Sussex, is set to be the location of a permanent public memorial that has recently been commissioned.
The proposed site for the memorial will be near the pond in the centre of the town’s park. The idea for the memorial is the concept of the Shelley Memorial Project. The sole aim of the project is to commemorate the work and life of the poet and the connection that he had with Horsham.
Tragically Shelley died at the age of 29. This year will mark 200 years since his death.
The chairman of the project said that not only had the committee been delighted by how successful their festival for the poet had been but also that they would now be able to make a significant contribution to the celebrations taking place for Shelley on such an important year and on an international scale. The level of celebrations taking part is a clear indication of just how relevant the poet still is in our modern times.
Horsham District Council has already given its support to the memorial project and has ring-fenced some additional funding to help support the project.
The project is now looking for artists who will create their vision and have asked for submissions of interest to be made by 31st January. They will then pick the four candidates that they like the most to go forward to the next round of the selection process.
How One of Britain’s Favourite Christmas Carols Was Launched by an American Magazine
A new carol appeared in “The English Hymnal” in 1906. It was set to music by Gustav Holst and had words by Cristina Rossetti, the British poet. It went on to become on of the most beloved Christmas carols. In 2008 “In the Bleak Midwinter” was voted to be the greatest carol of all time.
It was never meant to be a Christmas carol. However, ironically when Rosetti wrote it, it was given the title “A Christmas Carol”, but when it was paired with the music, it took on a completely new identity, which has seen it appearing on all sorts of Christmas-related products over the years as well as becoming a popular carol and even being a recurring motif in “Peaky Blinders.”
It has been calculated that there are a staggering 185 different versions of “In the Bleak Midwinter” that have been created over the years, not bad for a poem that, whilst written by a highly regarded poet, was slow to reach any kind of popularity when it was first published. In fact, its most enthusiastic and first audience was, in fact, in the United States.
Rosetti, who was a devout Anglican, wrote many devotional poems at a time when women were not permitted to be ordained, and their voice in such matters was considered to be of little importance. It is, however, her religious poetry that was most well known and in the 1870s a number of her poems had been published in British hymnals and religious anthologies.