The most read Lifesaving Poems of 2013


These are the most read Lifesaving Poems posts of 2013.


Mary Oliver, ‘The Journey’

I first read this on Malcolm Doney’s Posterous page, on a blog post about Russell Brand vs Jeremy Paxman round 1.

UA Fanthorpe, ‘Atlas’

I heard this before I read it, in a wedding service. One of the great love poems.

Ted Hughes, ‘Wind’

I first read this in an English exam. It was the first time I remember thinking ‘I could do this for the rest of my life.’

Seamus Heaney, ‘Night Drive’

A low-key triumph: domestic, intimate, sotto voce.

Derek Mahon, ‘Everything is Going to Be All Right’

‘The poems flow from the hand unbidden/and the hidden source is the watchful heart.’

Brendan Kennelly, ‘May the Silence Break’

I read this to a friend in an intensive care unit, knowing she could still hear me.

Tomas Tranströmer, ‘Alone’

One of the great contemporary poems: introspective, unflinching, mysterious, unashamedly tackling the big themes.

Julia Darling vs Psalm 102, ‘Chemotherapy’

‘The smallest things are gifts’: a phrase that could come from either poet, Darling or the Psalmist?

Marie Howe, ‘Prayer’

This is cut out and attached to the shelf above my desk. I lift my eyes from my screen. It hangs there, silently rebuking me.

John Logan, ‘The Picnic’

The poem that set the whole thing off. Aged thirteen, in my first English lesson in a new school, I fell in love with poetry.


  1. Thanks Anthony – really enjoyed this feature over the last year. Swineherd by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin has to be in my new top ten. A poem that I missed first time around but that has since become one of my all time favourites.


    1. Dear David
      I am so pleased you like ‘Swineherd’. I don’t think I will ever reach a conclusion on it. I love the idea of a readers’ top ten. Maybe we should try that…
      As ever with thanks and see you in 2014


  2. Thank you for expanding my mind and my world. I delighted in many a poem and thank you will all my thanks for sharing such wonderful words. Best wishes.


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