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.
Sir Walter Ralegh, poet, scholar, soldier and explorer, travel-writer, historian and favourite courtier of Queen Elizabeth I, was born in Devon around 1552, knighted in 1584, imprisoned twice in the Tower of London, where he wrote his History of the World, and executed in 1618. Many famous poems attributed to him, like "The Passionate Man's Pilgrimage", may not actually be his. But, like the many poems written to him by the Queen and others, they testify to what Ralegh stood for in the Elizabethan age, as a poet and a man.
Ruth Padel was born in London in 1947 and educated at Oxford. She lived for several years in Greece and worked as a Greek scholar before becoming a freelance writer. She has won the National Poetry Competition and published two books about reading modern poetry, most recently The Poem and the Journey. Other non-fiction includes I'm A Man, about rock music and Greek myth, and Tigers in Red Weather, a nature book and travel memoir about the years she spent searching for tigers in Asian jungles. She has published six collections of poems, most recently The Soho Leopard (2004).