Review by: Hanna Geissler
The programme is presented by rapper Akala and is divided into five short sections providing an introduction to the life and work of Romantic poets: Wordsworth, Blake, Keats, Shelley and Byron. For each poet, Akala examines one of their most well-known poems and offers detailed analysis of certain lines. Below is a short summary of each section:
1) Wordsworth: The Prelude (extract: stealing the boat)
Akala links Wordsworth’s writing to the Lake District and comments on the relationship between Wordsworth and nature, with nature serving as a companion, often personified in his poems.
2) Blake: London
Akala describes how Blake peels back the layers to reveal the true London, a city divided by the disparity between wealth and poverty. He also explores the influence of the Industrial Revolution on Blake’s writing, and his voice as an angry radical pleading with the reader to recognise the wrongs he saw in the world around him.
3) Keats: Bright Star
Akala analyses the symbolism of the star, describing Keats as a man who ‘believed you should try to live as intensely as possible’. He comments on the important theme of nature in Romantic literature.
4) Shelley: Ozymandias
Interestingly, Akala links the poem to Antony Gormley’s sculptures in the instalment ‘Another Place’ at Crosby beach, explaining that both art forms depict man facing nature and ultimately convey the futility of trying to conquer nature.
5) Byron: When We Two Parted
Akala comments on Byron’s exploration of universal themes and the personal nature of much of his poetry.
The programme also includes interviews with experts on the work of each poet and comments from three young poets who provide thought-provoking, word-level analysis of the poems. Although the programme is only thirty minutes long and each section is relatively short, it serves as short but sweet introduction to the work of these Romantic poets.