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What poems do you know by heart?


The government is backing a scheme to get young people to learn poetry. What poems would you recommend, and which can you quote?

News of a government drive to encourage learning poetry by heart provoked Keatsian trills of verse on the books desk.

And, yes, the master of mists and mellow fruitfulness did indeed turn out to be one of the most fondly remembered poets, with On the Sea, Ode to Autumn and La Belle Dame Sans Merci each making an appearance. None, though, was so passionately declaimed as Robert Burns' Tam o'Shanter - which perhaps goes to show how much more patriotic the Scots are than the English about their poetry.

A quick call-out on twitter inspired a rather more irreverent response, but then – with the honourable exception of the haiku – you don't get much poetry in 140 characters.

The 130 poems selected for the Poetry by Heart are both long and short and span 700 years. How many of them do you know, and what others have you learned by heart, either by desire or coercion?

Altogether now...

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