Sheer Poetry

I went to Lords on Monday afternoon. Middlesex were playing Kent. A quintessential English scene. Sitting in this idyllic setting, with the sun shinning, I was reminded that there were a lot of cricketer/poets and even more poems about cricket. Lord Byron wrote about cricket at Harrow, Siegfried Sassoon about the varsity match at Lords. P.G. Wodehouse and Alfred Cochrane both wrote poems about catching. Cochrane’s, The Catch, about one heroic catch that saved the day, and Wodehouse – Missed! – about a bungled catch that lost the game.
Edmund Blunden wrote about the opening of the season. A.A. Milne (Hymn on Tompkins’ Action) and John Betjeman (Cricket Master) are two good poems. The list is endless. Perhaps the most famous cricket poem of all was written by Sir Henry Newbolt - There’s A Breathless Hush In The Close Tonight - with its unforgettable line, Play up! Play up! And play the game! Unfortunately it seems that many modern Britons have forgotten the line – and what it means.

If you’re interested in cricket writing, prose as well as poetry, there’s an excellent anthology by Christopher Lee entitled Through The Covers, published by Oxford University Press. There are also several good websites .