It is commonplace, amongst poets and readers of poetry today, to lament the decline in the appreciation of verse in contemporary society. Past eras are recalled—or imagined—when poems were learnt by heart; when poetry-reciting was a feature of popular culture, and it was taken for granted that the well-educated and well-read man or woman would, amongst their various accomplishments, be able to quote at length from the classics of poetry, and recognise, immediately, this or that allusion to a poem and be able to identify its author. Certainly, it would once have been considered extraordinary—ludicrous, even—that a graduate in (or…
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