The Oxford Book of Garden Verse

The Oxford Book of Garden Verse

4.14 (7 ratings by Goodreads)
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There have been poems about gardens for as long as there have been gardens. Gardens have been all things to all men and women: paradoxical sites of pleasure and pain, of safety and danger, art and nature, public spaces and private retreats, places of physical labour and metaphysical reflection. This diversity and versatility have always attracted poets, whose repertory of garden themes on the page matches what garden makers have achieved on the ground.

In this anthology successive historical periods of gardening - from enclosed garden and landscape park to Victorian flower-garden and modern patio - are mirrored in verse from the Middle Ages to the present day. While poets have eagerly seized upon the metaphorical associations gardens inspire, they have also been attracted to the opportunities they offer for description, both romantic and robust. As well as being microcosms of society, either perfectly maintained or ill-kempt and overrun,
where love can blossom alongside the flowers, or withering and decay may presage death, they are sites of real human labour. The gardener is here celebrated as much as his creation, as are his mundane tasks of weeding and making compost, mowing lawns and tending the allotment.

In his Introduction John Dixon Hunt identifies certain themes that recur throughout a selection that ranges from Chaucer to Pope, Marvell to Tennyson, Coleridge to Fleur Adcock, W. B. Yeats to Anthony Hecht, and Rudyard Kipling to Anne Sexton. Particularly fertile in modern examples, this anthology is a riot of literary talent to match the most abundant of gardens.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 378 pages
  • 146 x 225 x 33mm | 613g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0192141961
  • 9780192141965

Review quote

'here are 239 English-language poems - romantic, witty, robust, wistful, sad and luxuriant - which will appeal to all who delight in gardens and poetry'
Sunday Telegraph 'a lovely collection of poems from the Middle Ages ... to contemporary poets ... Full of memorable imagery and wonderful descriptions, it is a book to treasure.'
Day by Day 'here are 239 English-language poems - romantic, witty, robust, wistful, sad and luxuriant - which will appeal to all who delight in gardens and poetry'
Sunday Telegraph 'I have always been disappointed by garden anthologies, which rely too heavily on well-known classics and doggerel, but John Dixon-Hunt breaks the mould with the range and depth of his selection.
Francesca Greenoak, The Times 'The anthology is certainly a pleasant read for all, regardless of how green their fingers may be.'
Emma Howell, Oxford Times 'an exhilarating mix of poetry, medieval and modern, haunting and humorous, on topics ranging from college garden to conservatory, potting shed and allotment'
Dilly Halpin, Oxford Times `a pleasure to read for all, regardless of how green their fingers may be' Oxford Times 'promises to 'delight all those who garden and enjoy gardens, and who relish thje astonishing variety of poetry the garden has inspired'
Roddy Llewellyn, The Mail on Sunday 'Anyone who enjoys gardens and gardening could find that this anthology becomes their favourite bedside book. John Dixon Hunt's selection is so deliciously varied and so full of unfamiliar gems that it will surely win over even a normally unpoetical garden-lover.'
Patricia Morison, The Oldie 'a fascinating new anthology of verse from Oxford University Press'
David Vickerman, Western Mail 'It is the inclusion of a generous number of poems by living writers that gives this anthology its freshness.'
Anne Scott-James, Daily Mail `by far the best such anthology yet compiled' Rosemary Pettit, Bookseller It is hard to better poetry as a source for understanding the importance of the garden to human society. There have been other collections of garden verse, but it would be difficult to find one as thorough, intelligent and satisfying as this. It should be on every literate gardeners shelf. TLS
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About John Dixon Hunt

John Dixon Hunt is academic advisor to the Oak Spring Garden Library in Upperville, Virginia, and is former Director of Studies in Landscape Architecture at Dumbarton Oaks. He is the editor of the Journal of Garden History.
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Rating details

7 ratings
4.14 out of 5 stars
5 29% (2)
4 57% (4)
3 14% (1)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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