In this series, a contemporary poet selects and introduces a poet of the past. By their choice of poems and by the personal and critical reactions they express in their prefaces, the editors offer insights into their own work as well as providing an accessible and passionate introduction to some of the greatest poets of our literature.
George Herbert (1593-1633) was educated at Westminster School and Trinity, College, Cambridge where he was appointed Reader in Rhetoric in 1618 and Public Orator in 1620. He was a Greek and Latin scholar, was fluent in modern languages and an accomplished musician. In 1626 he resigned his seat in parliament and took holy orders, becoming Rector of Bemerton, a tiny rural parish on Salisbury Plain, in 1630. The Temple , Herbert's great structure of poems from which the present selection is drawn, first appeared in 1633, the year of his death.
Jo Shapcott was born in London. Poems from her three award-winning collections Electroplating the Baby , Phrase Book and My Life Asleep are gathered in Her Book: Poems 1988-1998 . She has won a number of literary prizes including the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Collection, the Forward Prize for Best Collection and the National Poetry Competition (twice). Her most recent collection is Tender Taxes , versions of Rilke’s French poems (Faber, 2001), and she is the co-editor of Emergency Kit (Faber, 1996) with Matthew Sweeney.