Broadcaster: BBC Radio 4
Genre: Poetry Reading
Review by: Luna Ferraraccio
In this footage, Roger McGough introduces the life and work of poet Alexander Pope. Some of his famous poems such as Birthday ode (1732) are read during the programme.
The different extracts recited through the broadcast are an intelligent way to illustrate the style of the author. McGough takes the poem Eloisa to Abelard (1717) as the main point of focus of the programme since it appears that, even if Alexander Pope was a classic author, Eloisa to Abelard has been described as the first Gothic work in the English literature.
Contextual background information is given to allow a full understanding of the poem and the impact it had during its time. The complete reading of the poem follows, which is refreshing to listen to since the reader respect the pauses, the rhythm and intonations of Eloisa to Abelard.
The programme is composed mainly by the reading of the poem Eloisa to Abelard. Even if it is not essential, it would be more fruitful for the listener to have some previous knowledge on poetry to catch all the subtleties of the text, which could however be an interesting as well as challenging excise.
The broadcast would be of great use for students since they would be able to discover some other pieces of work of Alexander Pope, other than the ones traditionally studied on University level curricula. ‘Poetry please’ might be an interesting programme for the listener who would like to refresh their background knowledge about the author Alexander Pope himself and rediscover his work from a different angle. However, it might be better to keep a critical perspective while listening to the footage, since McGough’s opinion is the only one given through the broadcast.