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Six Centuries of Verse is a documentary series about English poetry and its development over the last half millennia. The series originally aired on public television in the early 1990s. It is hosted by the award-winning Sir John Gielgud and covers everything from Chaucer to Ted Hughes. While world famous authors such as Shakespeare and Milton are covered, the series also goes off the beaten paths of literature and brings you hidden gems of poetry that are not as well-known. It features celebrity guest readers such as Anthony Hopkins, Ian Richardson, Peggy Ashcroft, Lee Remick, and many others. For visual effect, the poems are read from locations of literary merit, such as Emily Dickenson's bedroom. There are sixteen 25-minute long episodes for a total runtime of nearly seven hours. Anyone interested in poetry or the history of the English language will find something to like about Six Centuries of Verse.
|S01E01||Chaucer-Ted Hughes, 1384-1984||02/05/1984||A sweeping introduction to English-language poetry. Featured performers: Peggy Ashcroft, Cyril Cusack, Nicholas Gecks, Julian Glover, Lee Remick, Ian Richardson, Gary Watson.|
|S01E02||Old English||09/05/1984||Humor, adventure, faith, and violence in Anglo-Saxon poetry, including Beowulf. Featured performers: Nicholas Gecks and Julian Glover.|
|S01E03||Chaucer, 1300-1400||16/05/1984||The Canterbury Tales showcases Chaucer's wit and brilliant characterizations. Featured performers: Gary Watson, Brian Coburn, Nicholas Gecks, Gerrard McArthur, and Ian Richardson.|
|S01E04||Medieval-Elizabethan, 1400-1600||23/05/1984||Poems by John Skelton, Thomas Wyatt, Chidiock Tichborne, Thomas Nashe, Christopher Marlowe, Walter Raleigh, and William Shakespeare, ranging from simple, heartfelt sentiments to sophisticated social commentary. Featured performers: Peggy Ashcroft, Nicholas Gecks, Julian Glover, and Ian Richardson.|
|S01E05||Shakespeare, 1564-1616||30/05/1984||The "rough magic" of William Shakespeare's onstage verse. Featured performers: John Gielgud, Peggy Ashcroft, and Ralph Richardson.|
|S01E06||Metaphysical & Devotional, 1590-1670||06/06/1984||Poems of carnal and spiritual love by John Donne, George Herbert, and Andrew Marvell. Featured performers: Peggy Ashcroft and Julian Glover.|
|S01E07||Milton, 1608-1674||13/06/1984||The power of Milton's lyrical poetry and great epic, Paradise Lost. Featured performer: Ian Richardson.|
|S01E08||Restoration & Augustan, 1660-1745||20/06/1984||Political, social, and literary satire from John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester; John Dryden; Jonathan Swift; and Alexander Pope. Featured performers: Nicholas Gecks, Julian Glover, and Ian Richardson.|
|S01E09||Romantic Pioneers, 1750-1805||21/10/1984||Imagination loosed in William Blake, Christopher Smart, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and William Wordsworth. Featured performers: Peggy Ashcroft, Julian Glover, and Ian Richardson.|
|S01E10||Wordsworth, 1770-1850||28/10/1984||Nature and human nature in William Wordsworth. Featured performer: Julian Glover.|
|S01E11||Younger Romantics, 1800-1824||04/11/1984||The brief but dazzling genius of Percy Shelley, John Keats, and Lord Byron. Featured performers: Peggy Ashcroft, Nicholas Gecks, and Ian Richardson.|
|S01E12||Victorians, 1837-1901||11/11/1984||Love and death in Alfred, Lord Tennyson; Emily Bronte; Christina Rossetti; Robert Browning; Matthew Arnold; and A.C. Swinburne. Featured performers: Peggy Ashcroft, Julian Glover, and Ian Richardson.|
|S01E13||American Pioneers, 1855-1910||18/11/1984||The distinctly American voices of Walt Whitman, Edgar Allen Poe, Julia Ward Howe, Herman Melville, and Emily Dickinson. Featured performers: Stacy Keach and Lee Remick.|
|S01E14||Romantics & Realists, 1870-1920||25/11/1984||Subtle emotional shadings in Thomas Hardy, Gerard Manley Hopkins, A.E. Housman, and Rudyard Kipling. Featured performers: Peggy Ashcroft, Nicholas Gecks, Julian Glover, and Ian Richardson.|
|S01E15||Early Twentieth Century, 1914-1939||02/12/1984||The refined world-weariness of W.B. Yeats, Wilfred Owen, Edward Thomas, Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot, and W.H. Auden. Featured performers: Isla Blair, Cyril Cusack, Nicholas Gecks, Stacy Keach, and Ian Richardson.|
|S01E16||Towards the Present, 1934-1984||09/12/1984||Energy and alienation in Dylan Thomas, Robert Lowell, Philip Larkin, and Ted Hughes. Featured performers: Julian Glover, Anthony Hopkins, and Stacy Keach.|