Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Six Centuries of Verse

Thirty years ago I remember watching a wonderful TV series, Six Centuries of Verse. I loved it so much, I bought the book, written by Anthony Thwaites, who selected the poetry for the series which spanned English & American poetry from 1384-1984, Chaucer to Ted Hughes, over 16 episodes. The series was presented by Sir John Gielgud & featured actors reading the poetry. As well as the attraction of hearing some of my favourite poetry read by great actors, the series was filmed in beautiful locations - stately homes, gardens & churches.

I was so pleased to discover that the series has been released on DVD at last. I've spent the last few weeks watching my favourite episodes again. Although it's a melancholy experience too, because so many of the great actors featured have since died. Gielgud, Dame Peggy Ashcroft, Sir Ralph Richardson, Ian Richardson, Lee Remick. Still, this is a beautiful series. Anyone who enjoys poetry would love it. It seems to be available on You Tube, but only in bits & pieces so the DVD is the best option.
There is one clip on You Tube that I came across the other day which I think is just stunning. Christopher Eccleston reading Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen.

One of my favourite actors is Julian Glover. I remember him in By the Sword Divided, the Civil War drama series. Here he reads his own translation of Beowulf, as well as John Donne's The Flea & The Good-Morrow as well as a chilling reading of Browning's My Last Duchess. Peggy Ashcroft reads George Herbert & plays Cordelia to Gielgud's King Lear. Ian Richardson reads Blake's The Tyger & Christopher Smart's To His Cat Jeoffry, while sitting in a barn cuddling a cat. Lee Remick reads Emily Dickinson & Edgar Allan Poe. Six Centuries of Verse is a real treat for poetry fans.


  1. Must check out the DVD, thanks! I was amazed to see Julian Glover in Game of Thrones https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ak_kQo7QmP4

    1. Thanks for the JG interview, what an amazing actor. I haven't watched GOT but I'm tempted to watch a bit just to see Julian!

  2. Lyn it is well worth it ...My OH had to persude me as the first episode seemed bleak but it is well worth it ....