About this Recording
NA204512 - Collection: The Pied Piper of Hamelin and other favourite poems

Selected by Jan Fielden and John Mole

Selected by Jan Fielden and John Mole




The American poet Robert Frost believed that ‘a poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom.’ It is in this spirit that this collection has been made, chosen and read for younger listeners.


The first surprise is the sheer range of the poetry. There are rhymes, which seem barely to have emerged from the nursery, such as A.A. Milne’s The King’s Breakfast and Hilaire Belloc’s Henry King; yet there are also poems with a structure and content that suggest a more comfortable home in adult anthologies. Coleridge’s Kubla Khan, for example, with its magical landscape and solemn rhythms seldom fails to capture the imagination of young listeners. A good poem often communicates before it is understood.


This is the enduring appeal of poetry. Its use of highly vivid images and its rhythmic resilience and variety allow the poet to bring imagination, in its many and unexpected colors, fully to life.


We have included a range of poetry, which moves naturally from home base to strange regions, from the comic and curious to the mysterious and profound. All the poems are particularly suitable for reading aloud, whether they are lyrical, dramatic or — as in several cases such as Kit Wright’s Zoe’s Ear-rings — simply enjoying the fun of ingenious wordplay.


There are complete stories here — The Pied Piper of Hamelin, The Lady of Shalott — and humor aplenty, whether it is the music hall mischief of Dahn the Plughole or the more sinister touches of Binyon’s Hunger. Hilaire Belloc’s Cautionary Tales: Matilda and Henry King have always been popular, and their sardonic humor prevents them from seeming over-moralistic or dated.


Animals, naturally, figure prominently. We have included some fine examples of animal poems containing vivid observation. The sheer power of William Blake’s The Tyger evokes awe and wonder (which is why we have decided to place it near the beginning of this selection), but other creatures great and small keep appearing: a mighty horse, a dancing bear, an old donkey, and there are even a guinea-pig and a snail.


No anthology of poetry of this kind would be complete without some nonsense verse, so Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll are well represented. There are also traditional songs such as The Big Rock Candy Mountain, and Shakespeare makes his essential appearance with songs from his plays.


We hope that this collection will be used in many situations and on many occasions — perhaps in the car on a long journey (several of the poems are about journeys, departures and arrivals), or in the classroom where the teacher may want to concentrate on a particular poem. For this reason, the readers have introduced each poem with its title so that it can be found easily.

Inevitably there will be old favorites that are missing, but maybe our young listeners will be introduced to new poems, a number of them by contemporary poets, which will stay in their memories until they pass them on to another generation.


Notes by Jan Fielden and John Mole


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