Tuesday 7 April 2020

Romantic Poets - 10 x 1st class - 7 April 2020

Last year a number of readers drew attention to this year's 250th anniversary of the birth of William Wordsworth, one of the UK's best known and oft-quoted poets, even if all most of us can quote if from Daffodils.  They must have had high hopes that this would be commemorated with some really nice stamps.  Well....

As my fellow-blogger, WhiteKnight wrote on his Commonwealth Stamps Opinion blog,
Only a Royal Mail stamp could feature a rainbow without using any colour. Fine for an art exhibition, unsatisfactory for a stamp collection.
When Alfred, Lord Tennyson's death centenary was marked in 1992, four stamps designed by Irene von Treskow incorporated portraits of Tennyson and contemporary art works

Tennyson in 1888,1856,1864 & as a young man, with work by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, Arthur Hughes, John Waterhouse, and Dante Gabriel Rosetti.

Ok, so they wouldn't have appealed to everybody, just as most recent stamps don't appeal to all collectors.  But today's offerings are at the other end of the spectrum when it comes to design.  Not that Linda Farquharson is a bad artist, more that lino-cut is not the most appealing way to depict abstract matters expressed in poetry.

Here are today's stamps:

You'll need to click on the image to see them much larger.  I could have separated them, but to be honest I couldn't justify the time for something I disliked so much.  You may have other views.

As if anticipating this Royal Mail didn't provide details of each poet, poem, and stamp design so this is what we have:

a. "For everything I felt like a love, the weeds below the birds above" - The Progress of Rhyme by John Clare.

b. "The frost perfoms its secret ministry Unhelped by any wind" - Frost at Midnight by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

c. "To see a world in a grain of sand And a heaven in a wild flower" - Auguries of Innoncence by William Blake

d. "And mountains, that like giants stand, To sentinel enchanted land" - The Lady of the Lake by Walter Scott

e. "Higher still and higher From the earth though springest Like a cloud of fire" - To a Skylark by Percy Byshe Shelley

f. " My heart leaps up when I behold A rainbow in the sky" - The Rainbow by William Wordsworth.

g. "The snowdrop, Winter's timid child, Awakes to life bedew'd with tears" - Ode to the Snowdrop by Mary Robinson

h. "absence is The moonlight of affection" - The Fate of Adelaide by Letitia Elizabeth Landon

i. "Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty. - That is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know" - Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats

j. " She walks in beauty, like the night Of cloudless climes and starry skies" - She Walks in Beauty by Lord Byron.

This is what Royal Mail told us:

On the 250th anniversary of William Wordsworth, born on 7th April 1770 (exactly 250 years to the day of the stamp issue), Royal Mail celebrate the renowned poet and Romantic poetry with a set of ten stamps. William Wordsworth is regarded as having launched the ‘Romantic era’ of British poetry, was Poet Laureate and remains one of the UK’s most popular poets.

The word ‘romantic’ has a much wider meaning than ‘love’ to define the poets of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In an era of huge social changes, the Romantic poets reacted against the order and rationalism of the preceding (Enlightenment) era, and highlighted the importance of expressing real personal feelings. They had a sense of responsibility to society: they felt it was their duty to use their poetry to inform and inspire others, and even to change society.

Wordsworth was concerned about the elitism of earlier poets, their highbrow language and subject matter which was not accessible to ordinary people. He maintained that poetry should be democratic; that it should be composed in ‘the language really spoken by men’ and he launched his ideas when he, with Coleridge, published their Lyrical Ballads (1798).

Each of the ten stamps featured the work of the key Romantic poets – John Clare, Samuel Taylor
Coleridge, William Blake, Sir Walter Scott, Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Wordsworth, John Keats, Lord Byron, and two female poets – Mary Robinson and Letiticia Landon, who in their time were extremely popular, and among the first women to support themselves solely by writing.

The target thematic audience for these stamps are those who have a keen or passing interest in
literature, poetry, creative writing and specifically Romanticism, as well as admirers of Wordsworth and fellow writers / poets. Members or followers of the Wordsworth trust and the Tate, which has a William Blake exhibition ending in February. Wordsworth’s childhood home is a National Trust property and it’s worth noting that the founders of National Trust were all committed Wordsworthians and is also celebrating his 250th birthday with a new exhibition & events throughout 2020.

Technical details
The stamps are designed by The Chase, with illustrations by Linda Faruharson.  Printing is by ISP in litho.  Stamp size is 41 x 30 mm, with perforations 14½ x 14, and they are in sheets of 25/50.

A Wordsworth Coin Cover was also available with a special £5 coin.  You can buy all the products from Royal Mail's website.



  1. Surely the point of petry is that the words themselves paint the pictures. No illustrations should be necessary....

    1. How can you have a stamp without any picture? But I do not like these either so shall not buy any, and seek the Scottish miniature sheet; so far without success. How does one guess which POs might have miniature sheets? In Rosherville today they told me they do have commemorates & presentation packs but never miniature sheets. Perhaps the war stamps will be better, easier to get and certainly more useful as they have 2nd class.

  2. This issue totally slipped my mind. Anyway, I am all set for postage for a while and none of these grabbed my attention. If the main post office has any by the time the next issue is out, and general situation improves, I might get a couple if a penfriend or two like any of these bits of poems.

  3. Stamps + Poetry = Love :)


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