Poet’s Home At Risk/War Poetry Released – Poetry news Roundup November 8th

We begin the week with a look at a poet’s former home which has been places on the risk register and a new book about war poetry that is being released.

William Blakes Former Cottage Placed on Heritage at Risk Register

A thatched cottage in West Sussex that was once the home of the poet William Blake, and his wife Catherine has been placed on the Heritage at Risk Register, alongside a historic garden and one of the oldest windmills in England.

The cottage where the poet penned the words to the famous hymn “Jerusalem” has been deemed to be at serious risk of being lost to the world forever due to its current state of disrepair. The thatched 17th-century cottage in the West Sussex green and pleasant lands is one of a total of 130 different sites that were added to the at Risk Register in the last year by Historic England who oversee the list.

Blake and his wife lived in the property, which is close to Bognor Regis, for a total of three years starting in 1800. During his lifetime he was widely seen as something of an oddball by his peers, but he is now considered to be one of the most influential British poets.

Jerusalem, which takes a look at the myth that Jesus might have visited the British Isles at one point was, in fact, written as a preface to another of Blake’s poems. It wasn’t until over 100 years later that the words were set to music to create the hymn that we all know so well.

The cottage has been placed on the list because it is a state of “decay” with the room and supporting masonry disintegrating. There are calls for an appeal to be launched that may help to raise the money that will be needed in order to restore the building.

Buildings are placed on the at Risk Register when it is deemed that they have important historical significance. There is money available to help with their restoration, but it is often enough, and public appeals are usually made. Last year 233 structures were actually removed from the list as they had been the subject of successful restoration projects.

The Folio Book of War Poetry

Andrew Motion, the former British poet laureate, is responsible for the editing of a special book of poetry that will be released on 11th November, Veterans Day.

The Folio Book of War Poetry looks at works by great poets that discuss the loses and valour of war. The poems have been selected from all kinds of background, cultures and over the course of many years. It looks at “The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Alfred Lord Tennyson as well as some of the poems that came about during the second world war thanks to poets like Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, and Ivor Gurney.

During an interview to promote the book Motion discussed some of his favourite poems from the book and even read a few of them. He also spoke about how difficult it had been to find a really diverse range of poems, particularly those that illustrated some of the points he wanted to get across in the book. His search did however bring up some gems including “If We Must Die” which was written by Jamaican American writer Claude McKay.

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