Mark Ford London: A History in Verse

ISBN 13: 9780674065680

London: A History in Verse

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9780674065680: London: A History in Verse
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Called "the flour of Cities all," London has long been understood through the poetry it has inspired. Now poet Mark Ford has assembled the most capacious and wide-ranging anthology of poems about London to date, from Chaucer to Wordsworth to the present day, providing a chronological tour of urban life and of English literature.

Nearly all of the major poets of British literature have left some poetic record of London: Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, Dryden, Pope, Johnson, Wordsworth, Keats, Byron, and T. S. Eliot. Ford goes well beyond these figures, however, to gather significant verse of all kinds, from Jacobean city comedies to nursery rhymes, from topical satire to anonymous ballads. The result is a cultural history of the city in verse, one that represents all classes of London's population over some seven centuries, mingling the high and low, the elegant and the salacious, the courtly and the street smart. Many of the poems respond to large events in the city's history - the beheading of Charles I, the Great Fire, the Blitz - but the majority reflect the quieter routines and anxieties of everyday life through the centuries.

Ford's selections are arranged chronologically, thus preserving a sense of the strata of the capital's history. An introductory essay by the poet explores in detail the cultural, political, and aesthetic significance of the verse inspired by this great city. The result is a volume as rich and vibrant and diverse as London itself.

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“This marvelous anthology ranging over six centuries about one of the great cities of the world is not only a delight to read, but also a revelation: Who would have suspected that there were so many memorable poems written about London by poets one tends to identify with other interests? Starting with Mark Ford’s informative and thoroughly enjoyable introduction, we go from surprise to surprise turning the pages of this book, very much like someone taking in the sights of a city he was not familiar with, or has long known, and is now discovering to his astonishment, as if for the first time.”—Charles Simic

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