Stapleford Granary

Course description

Saturday 9 February
14.00-17.30  £50/£45 students
Tea and coffee provided


In partnership with Literature Cambridge

Nature has been an abiding concern for poets throughout history. After 1750, the natural world was subject to dramatic changes. How did poetry engage with these changes? And how does that poetry speak to us now?

Oliver Goldstein 

Nature Under Pressure

One of William Blake's most famous poems from Songs of Experience begins with the line: ‘O Rose thou art sick.’ This lecture will consider the ways poets such as Blake, Wordsworth, Keats and Tennyson engaged with a ‘sick’ natural world under the conditions of industrial modernity. How did their nature poetry contemplate questions of beauty and waste? And how might their verse help us to think about climate change and environmental crisis today?   

Paul Chirico

John Clare: Poet of Nature 

John Clare (1793-1864) grew up in a labouring family in the village of Helpston on the edge of the Fens. Both his early working life and his social and cultural outlook were shaped by the enormous changes brought about by the local Enclosure Act in 1809. 

His intimate love for his natural world underpinned an extraordinary and enduring body of poetry. This lecture will explore – and enjoy – that poetry in all its breadth, from minute observations of birds and plants, to narrative accounts of self-discovery in woodland or open landscape, to impassioned, finely-crafted declarations of resistance to environmental degradation. 


About our lecturers

Paul Chiricois Senior Tutor at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge and a leading scholar on John Clare.

Oliver Goldstein works on nineteenth-century poetry at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. 


Further information:

T 01223 324960