Reading Wordsworth around the world

Celebrities, artists, writers and musicians have joined a project to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Wordsworth .

They have read Wordsworth’s poems to be viewed and heard throughout the world on a website which has gone beyond the wildest dreams of the organisers, the poet’s descendants.

Wordsworth250 is being led by Christopher Wordsworth Andrew, the great great great great grandson of the poet whose family still own the house at Rydal Mount near Ambleside where William lived for most of his life.

The house, which opened to the public for the first time 50 years ago, is currently closed because of the health crisis. The family had planned a series of events there – including the 80th birthday of Christopher’s mother Susan – but decided that celebrations must go ahead in a virtual way.

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The website was featured this week in The Guardian which reports that: “A host of actors and celebrities have jumped at the chance to record their favourite Wordsworth poems to mark the 250th anniversary of his birth, with the poet’s descendants now appealing to the public to send in their own readings to help them build a living archive of his writing online.

“Stephen Fry and Brian Cox’s sonorous tones can be heard declaiming William Wordsworth’s The World Is Too Much With Us, Caroline Quentin is reading the Romantic poet’s Lines Written in Early Spring, and William H Macy has taken on his She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways.”

There have been poems set to music and sung; old favourites presented in new – and sometimes startling – ways. Actors such as Tom Conti have joined members of the Wordsworth family; readers old and young have presented their favourites.

The website is www.wordsworth250.com and contributions can be made by members of the public to wordsworth250@gmail.com ; audio or video files can be submitted and can be recorded on a mobile phone. If files are too large to email, they can be sent to the same address using We Transfer.

Christopher said that William’s poems were more relevant today than ever. “He was a pioneer with his views about nature and the environment.

“We launched three poems  with celebrity readings, and we have been overwhelmed by the response. We want to keep this open for everyone, to record their favourite poem and we will keep it on the website for ever. We found that actually everybody rather likes Wordsworth. Not just the daffodils and Westminster Bridge, but a whole load of other things as well.”

 

Join us and read YOUR favourite Wordsworth poem

Stephen Fry is joining descendants of William Wordsworth in reading poetry online in a celebration venture which will be open to everyone.

Anyone who loves Wordsworth is invited to record themselves reading their favourite poem and upload it to a website which is launched today, the 250th anniversary of the poet’s death. The first three poems are live now, beginning with Stephen Fry reading The world is too much with us.

He is followed by Susan Wordsworth Andrew (great great great grand-daughter) reading Afterthought, and Thea Aitchison (great great great great great grand-daughter) reading My heart leaps up.

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The project is being led by Christopher Wordsworth Andrew, the great great great great grandson of the poet whose family still own the house at Rydal Mount near Ambleside where William lived for most of his life.

The house, which opened to the public for the first time 50 years ago today, is currently closed because of the health crisis. The family had planned a series of events there – including the 80th birthday of Christopher’s mother Susan – but decided that celebrations must go ahead in a virtual way.

The website is www.wordsworth250.com and contributions can be made by members of the public to wordsworth250@gmail.com ; audio or video files can be submitted and can be taken on a mobile phone. If files are too large to email, they can be sent to the same address using We Transfer.

Christopher said that William’s poems were more relevant today than ever. “He was a pioneer with his views about nature and the environment.

“We are launching the first three poems today with celebrity readings, but we want to open this to everyone, to record their favourite poem and we will keep it on the website for ever.

The Wordsworth family have also postponed the award ceremony for the annual Rydal Mount poetry prize for young people. Entries on the theme of Milestones are currently being read and judged by members of the family and all who took part will be invited to the prizegiving later in the year.

Christopher also highlighted one poem which resonates today:

 

Lines Written in Early Spring

I heard a thousand blended notes,

While in a grove I sate reclined,

In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts

Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

 

To her fair works did Nature link

The human soul that through me ran;

And much it grieved my heart to think

What man has made of man.

 

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,

The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;

And ’tis my faith that every flower

Enjoys the air it breathes.

 

The birds around me hopped and played,

Their thoughts I cannot measure:—

But the least motion which they made

It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

 

The budding twigs spread out their fan,

To catch the breezy air;

And I must think, do all I can,

That there was pleasure there.

 

If this belief from heaven be sent,

If such be Nature’s holy plan,

Have I not reason to lament

What man has made of man?

 

 

Stamps to celebrate Wordsworth anniversary

Royal Mail is launching 10 new special stamps on the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Wordsworth, who was born on 7th April 1770.

They feature Wordsworth himself and other major Romantic poets: William Blake; John Keats; Lord Byron; Samuel Taylor Coleridge; Mary Robinson; Percy Bysshe Shelley; Walter Scott; John Clare; and Letitia Elizabeth Landon.

Each stamp uses an extract from one of their most popular and enduring works, along with a specially-commissioned illustration by Linda Farquharson that reflects the theme of the poem.

wordsworthy stamp

Said Christopher Wordsworth Andrew, the poet’s great great great great grandson: “We are hoping these stamps strike a chord with people at this time. It’s another wonderful tribute to the life and work of William Wordsworth and enables us to mark the occasion even though we have had to curtail other celebrations.”

The Wordsworth family had been due to gather at Rydal Mount this week to mark the anniversary. Instead, they are releasing videos and audio recordings of several family members, friends and other poets reading their favourite Wordsworth poems.

The range of stamps can be seen at https://shop.royalmail.com/special-stamp-issues/the-romantic-poets

 

The Rainbow

My heart leaps up when I behold 
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began; 
So is it now I am a man; 
So be it when I shall grow old, 
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.