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Selected Poems

Charlotte Smith

Edited by Judith Willson

Cover Picture of Selected Poems
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Categories: 18th Century, 19th Century, Women
Imprint: Fyfield Books
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (144 pages)
(Pub. Aug 2003)
£7.95 £7.16
  • Description
  • Excerpt
  • Author
  • Contents
  • Reviews
  • Ah! hills so early loved! in fancy still
    I breathe your pure keen air; and still behold
    Those widely spreading views, mocking alike
    The poet and the painter's utmost art.
    And still, observing objects more minute,
    Wondering remark the strange and foreign forms
    Of sea-shells...
        from Beachy Head

    Charlotte Smith (1749-1806) was a prolific writer whose independence of outlook marks her out as a strikingly modern figure. Her poetry was admired by Wordsworth, and although her work was later neglected, she is now being recognised as a major poet whose Romantic sensibility was an expression of specifically female experience. This selection reveals Charlotte Smith as a moving, memorable poet, her responses to natural and emotional landscapes marked by vividly particular observation.

    This selection provides an ideal introduction to the full range of Charlotte Smith's work. Her influential sonnets and her poems for children, extracts from her French Revolution poem 'The Emigrants' and the full text of her astonishing 'Beachy Head' are included here. Judith Willson's introduction and notes give the background to Smith's life and clarify the detail of her poems.
    Table of Contents

    Introduction - Judith Willson

    Note on the Texts

    Further Reading

    from Elegiac Sonnets and Other Poems



























    Thirty Eight

    Verses Supposed to Have Been Written in the New Forest, in Early Spring

    The Forest Boy

    from The Emigrants

    from Conversations Introducing Poetry; Chiefly on Subjects of Natural History, For the Use of Children and Young Persons

      A Walk by the Water

       The Hedgehog Seen in a Frequented Path

       the Moth

       To the Firefly of Jamaica, Seen in a Collection

       To a Geranium which Flowered during the Winter. Written in Autumn

    from Beachy Head and Other Poems


       Beachy Head


    Charlotte Smith
    Charlotte Smith was born in 1749 in London, and spent much of her childhood at the family's estate at Bignor Park in Sussex. Her mother died when she was three, and the family's fortunes changed as a result of her father's gambling debts. At the age of fifteen Charlotte Smith married ... read more
    Judith Willson
    Judith Willson has worked as a teacher and in publishing. Her work was featured in Carcanet’s New Poetries VI and her first collection, Crossing the Mirror Line, was published by Carcanet in 2017. She grew up in London and Manchester and now lives in the Yorkshire Pennines. ... read more
    Praise for Judith Willson 'A book to linger over, and return to.'

    Hannah Stone, The Lake 

    'Effortlessly transportive... This is rich, heady verse, evocatively catapulting the reader through time and space'

    The Poetry Book Society Spring Bulletin

    'This atmospheric collection shows how history can be brought to life. One individual, though forgotten in time, is remembered through Willson's thoughtful poetry and prose'

    Sue Wallace-Shaddad, The Alchemy Spoon

    'The collection is pervaded by a profound sense of the unknowability of the past, but its vitality nonetheless... an extraordinary poetic meditation'

    Anatomies of Power, Christopher Smith

    'There's a real fluidity, a real haunting, a real fairy tale-like feeling to this collection... Beautiful on every level. I just loved it.'

    Jasmine Reads, YouTube

    'Fleet is an important book: it seeks to recover lost voices and sharpen our awareness of imperial cruelty and exploitation, while unveiling a future in which the once most powerful species is itself endangered ... Willson is the kind of writer who has a gift for bringing research alive, and infuses sparse facts with mystery and pathos.'

    Carol Rumens, The Guardian where The Human Voice from a Distance was Poem of the Week w/c 1st March 2021

    'These poems glitter and intrigue, with a high strike-rate, a sophisticated polish on words.'
    Dilys Wood, Artemis Poetry
    'It is a poetry of settlement, of attending to the artistic voices including your own, and contemplating their artefacts as is only possible in a civilised condition. How it might view such things as governmental cruelty or the history of brutality, is suggested through the careful development of figurative language.'
    Peter Riley, Fortnightly Review
     'She gets everything right: beautiful, fulsome vocabulary, arresting images, and perfect control of tone and metre. She is thoughtful and exact. These poems have clearly seen many reworkings. I'm reading this book greedily...I know I'll come back to it again.'
    Charlotte Wetton, The Kindling Journal
    'Judith Willson's taut, meditative, richly imagined debut collection ... is an on-going interplay between a speaking us and a silent them, between multiple artworks and their multiple subjects: not just one single crossing of the mirror line, but several.'
    Stephen Grace, Eborakon
    Judith's poem 'A Bone Flute' from her debut collection Crossing the Mirror Line was Guardian Poem of the Week on 8th January 2018
     'Judith Willson's poetry takes us, in a dazzling flow of images, to lives which have the solidity of Central European fairytale with all the frightening reality of history behind them. Richly inventive in form and precise in tone, this is an amazingly assured debut collection.'
    Elaine Feinstein

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