Poetry Please: The 10 most popular poems

Here are the top 10 on Poetry Please, the 10 most popular poems on the longest running poetry programme broadcast anywhere in the world, according to the BBC. Started in 1979, the BBC 4 programme presents poems requested by listeners. It reaches two million listeners a week. The top 10 list is from the book, Poetry Please. The poet Roger McGough, who presents the weekly programme, says in his foreword to the book: “The 350 poems here have all been asked for more than once in the programme’s history…” The top 10 includes some of my own favourites.

#1

 

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Lee Kuan Yew on here and hereafter

“It’s Chinese lessons as usual for Mr Lee on 91st birthday,” reported the Straits Times. We saw the Facebook updates from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong thanking well-wishers for wishing his father a happy birthday and from Goh Chok Tong, who visited the old man and said: “He looked well and sharp…”

Resoundingly, however, there was not a word from the man himself.

Lee Kuan Yew

Lee Kuan Yew

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Poems that make grown men cry

Poems That Make Grown Men Cry. The title made me pick up the book. And it was revealing. It brings together poems which have made writers cry.

Auden the tear-jerker

Auden the tear-jerker

So we have Salman Rushdie confessing he is moved to tears by the last lines of WH Auden’s famous poem, In Memory of WB Yeats.

Sebastian Faulks, author of Birdsong and the James Bond sequel Devil May Care, names Coleridge’s Frost at Midnight, adding: “I read this poem at my daughter’s christening.”

The former Times and Sunday Times editor Harold Evans says he could not hold back his tears when he read Wordsworth’s Character of the Happy Warrior at his predecessor, Sir Denis Hamilton’s funeral service.

The writer Melvyn Bragg mentions Shakespeare’s Sonnet XXX. “I have never been able to read this sonnet without stumbling and then stopping. It is the final couplet that finishes me off,” he says. [Read more...]

Aimless Love, Reader and Poetry by Billy Collins

I love the poems of Billy Collins. Quiet and intimate, they are like sharing your thoughts with your spouse or lover when both of you are feeling happy and have nothing to do. You make small talk, exchange jokes, comment on little details. Collins’s poems are similar in nature. 

Aimless Love by Billy Collins

Aimless Love by Billy Collins

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