e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

George Orwell and his poetry

IMG_6289-189x300George Orwell’s poetry was recently published as a collection. Apparently this is for the first time. Given how famous he is, I wondered why. Surely after his death any unpublished work would have been extra-valuable.

The BBC interview goes some way towards explaining this. According to Dione Venables, the collection’s editor, he wasn’t a great poet and the value of much of his verse lies in what it says about him as a person, not his politics nor poetry in general.

He was a persistent poet. Like many, he discovered the joy of writing verse when very young, but unlike many, he never gave it up, which means that this collection covers a lifetime’s output.

A good deal of his poetry has been available for some time. He published a few in magazines himself, and various websites have selections. The Orwell Prize site has links to several and also to scanned original pages of others – his handwriting was reasonably legible, but they are still difficult to read.

A lot of the poetry is light and easy reading:

A happy vicar I might have been
Two hundred years ago
To preach upon eternal doom
And watch my walnuts grow;

But born, alas, in an evil time,
I missed that pleasant haven,
For the hair has grown on my upper lip
And the clergy are all clean-shaven.

There are several more, similar, verses.

Cover picture from Scarthin Books.

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12 thoughts on “George Orwell and his poetry

  1. ha! I have seen a movie on his novel animal farm, it is masterpiece.

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  2. Thanks for sharing! I’m taking an English class in college and we recently read one of his essays, Shooting an Elephant, which was difficult to read, if I might add. But I enjoyed this poem…

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  3. ann perrin on said:

    Brilliant post got me checking out more of his poetry. Thank you

    Like

  4. Thank you for sharing this!

    Like

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