Celebrate World Poetry Day with these essays on poetry across cultures


Photograph of words written on a street stretching to the distance

Street Poetry, by Alex Cheek (via Flickr (reproduced under CC BY-SA 2.0 licence).

Happy World Poetry Day 2017! World Poetry Day is led by UNESCO, in recognition of the way in which poetry “reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings.” To celebrate, here are three free essays published by our researchers over the past year that expose some unexpected poetic connections across cultures.

The Surprising Links Between Paradise Lost and the Qur’an

The universal themes and connections between people are revealed perfectly in John Milton’s Paradise Lost, a great Christian epic that nevertheless drew on ideas from the Islamic world as well. Sharihan Al-Akras and Mandy Green co-authored an article exploring Milton’s sources. Read their article on Milton’s Iblis and the “Great Sultan” [paywall] or explore their key findings in this interview with Sharihan.

Coleridge, Isherwood and Hindu Light

Light plays a key role in Hinduism: divine light is seen as something literal, and to perceive and experience this light is the aim of devotees. The Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and the twentieth-century poet Christopher Isherwood, both experienced personal struggles that led them to the light-based cosmology of Bhagavad Gita. Chris Murray (now at Monash University) shows how, in different ways, they turned to the light offered by Hinduism.

Turning to Dante: Shelley’s Adonais Reconsidered

While British Romantic poets such as Percy Bysshe Shelley sought to establish their own unique style and philosophy, they also looked to the continent for ideas and models to borrow and adapt. Michael O’Neill shows how Shelley turned to the Italian poet Dante. Shelley realised that Dante’s terza rima verse form could be used to present a “vision of experience that is alive to possibility and resistant to closure.”

If you want to enjoy some poetry aloud on World Poetry Day, check out our collection of sparkling poetry readings.

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