Ten of the best poems about Norfolk

Poetry word cloud. Photo: Getty Images.

Poetry word cloud. Photo: Getty Images. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Not only is today April Fools Day, it's also Poetry and Creative Mind Day. Celebrate with these great poems about Norfolk.

In 1821, English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote an essay entitled 'A Defence of Poetry' in which he provided several, rather poetic, descriptions of what he thought poetry was.

To him, 'poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted', for Robert Frost poetry was 'what gets lost in translation' while Mary Oliver has been quoted as saying that it is 'a way of life. It's an empty basket; you put your life into it and make something out of that.'

Everyone has their own interpretation of what poetry is and for as long as anyone can remember poems have been written in a vast array of formats, have elicited a spectrum of emotion from readers and writers alike and have also covered a wide range of topics – including Norfolk.

Here are some of the most interesting poems that have been written about Nelson's County and their best lines.


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• Lament for the city of Norwich by John Skelton

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This poem was written in reference to a severe fire in Norwich in 1505. The fire, which started in Colegate at the house of surgeon Peter Johnson, burned for two days.

O sad calamity, O fate most dire!

A venerable city razed by fire.

Through love's fierce lightnings, or the Fates' stern hand,

Norwich, so long the glory of our land

• Thoughts at Happisburgh by Joan Barton

Learning it is the hard thing. Happisburgh is a teacher

Pounding the grammar, rewarding with a poem:

For here beyond the caravans a village grows, in farms and elms and sheep-pens and a vigilant tower

• A Mind's Journey to Diss by John Betjemen

Dear Mary,

Yes it will be bliss, to go with you by train to Diss,

Your walking shoes upon your feet;

We'll meet, my sweet, at Liverpool Street.

• Nightfall in the Fens by Ada Cambridge

The western glories fade and pass. The twilight deepens more and more.

A thin mist, like a breath on glass, veils shining stream and a distant shore:

And night is falling, still cool, on each broad marsh and silent pool.

• A Very Merry – Wherry – Ferry Voyage by John Taylor

In 1622 John Taylor,'the Water Poet', was forced to land at Cromer while undertaking a 'wagering journey' from London to York. Unfortunately, during his stop, the town's folk mistook him and his crew for pirates and the local constables were called. This poem is Taylor's recollection of the incident.

It is an ancient market town that stands upon a lofty cliff of mouldering sands;

the sea against the cliffs doth daily beat, and every tide into the land doth eat.

• Walsingham by Sir Walter Raleigh

The accreditation of this poem is unclear, but is commonly thought to have been written by Raleigh. The love ballad features conversation about a lost love and the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.

As you came from the holy land

Of Walsingham,

met you not with my true love

by the way as you came?

• Sweet Was The Walk, by William Wordsworth

Wordsworth wrote this poem about the Norfolk countryside in 1790 while staying with his sister in Forncett St Peter.

Sweet was the walk along the narrow lane,

At noon, the bank and hedge-rows all the way

Shagged with wild plae green tufts of fragrant hay,

Caught by the hawthorns from the loaded wain,

Which age with many a slow stoop strove to gain.'

• Morning in Norfolk by George Barker

The crimson December morning brims over

Norfolk, turning to burning Turner

this aqueous water colour

idyll that earlier gleamed

so green that it seemed drowned.

• Dusk, Burnham Over Staithe by Kevin Crossley-Holland

I only guess where marsh

finishes and sky begins,

each grows out of the other.

• Saturday at Wroxham by Alan Hunter

So many boats upon the river!

So many pennants all a-quiver!

So many yachts about the quays,

so many sails amongst the trees;

so many people everywhere,

so much holiday in the air!

• What's your favourite Norfolk poem? Let us know in the comments below.

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