The Fame and Nurture of Poetry

Barry Spurr


A.E. Housman's lecture, 'The Name and Nature of Poetry' (1933), provides an example of an approach to the reading and appreciation of verse, based on the compelling character of poetry to communicate emotional states from author to reader; and Housman's own poetry, in such as the lyric, 'Loveliest of trees...', reveals his principles in practice. This and other approaches to the nurturing of both the love of and knowledge about poetry are especially needed, today, when it tends to be regarded as unapproachable and difficult, and confined to academic study. Recovery of its appreciation as an essentially oral art should begin in children's earliest years and be sustained throughout schooling and while the proposed National Curriculum for Australian schools is to be commended for encouraging this for youngsters, it is to be criticised for not retaining it throughout the English syllabus and even more strongly rebuked for disregarding the great tradition of poetry in English which is all but ignored in its proposals.

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