Arts and Entertainment The loss of happiness: Giacomo Leopardi

This extraordinary 'mish-mash' opens up the creative workshop of Italy's great Romantic poet

Classical Review: Mr Preview celebrates in style

LSO/ANDRE PREVIN BARBICAN LONDON

Britten's spring awakening

Neither symphony nor song-cycle, Benjamin Britten's most idiosyncratic achievement is a major landmark.

Classical: In league with the prince of darkness

STRAVINSKY SERIES

Does modern Britain really need a Poet Laureate?

THE RATE for the job was fixed in 1692 at pounds 100 per year. No one has managed a pay rise since. In the lists of the Royal Household, it features alongside the Swan Marker, the Bargemaster, and the Keeper of the Royal Stamp Collection. It has a cast-iron record for inspiring duff ceremonial verse from major poets - when, by chance or design, major poets happen to win the post.

Obituary: T. Arfon Williams

IF WELSH poetry is a closed book to most English readers, with but a few honourable exceptions, it is not only because the poet in Wales has had a function different from that of his counterpart in England but also because for the last thousand years Welsh poetry has been written in a prosody so complex that John Cowper Powys was once prompted to remark that the people among whom he had made his home were "the most conservative, the most introverted, the most mysterious nation that has ever existed outside China".

'Kirchstetten, receive an honoured guest'

WH Auden died 25 years ago this week. In Britain we hardly noticed. But in Austria they paid their respects. By Simon O'Hagan

Obituary: Iain Crichton Smith

WHEN BBC Scotland TV lunchtime news, after dire remarks about the national football team's latest performance, came up with a well-compiled tribute to Iain Crichton Smith, one didn't know whether to laugh or cry. There he was, the portentously but deceptively rueful downturn of the mouth, the especially complete and candid baldness, but craggier than one remembered somehow, turning into a monument. But, as the rather strange phrase has it, there was "no side" to him.

Words: analeptic, adj. or n.

STRANGE THE way that the mind works. Some of us cannot hear the pop of the cork being released from a bottle without the word analeptic springing to mind. Such is poetry.

Literary Notes: Politics in a different conceptual context

EXPECTING AUDEN to be a kind of political poet has sometimes confounded his readers, who find they have to search quite hard for direct comments on public events. Can it be that the poet who by his own admission barely opened a newspaper until he was 23 was, after all, someone to whom general ideas remained more attractive than particular ones; private mental events taking precedence over public ones? No indeed, but his trick is to put the political into a different conceptual context altogether, in order to make us really think about it.

D H Lawrence must stay in US, say family

Rachelle Thackray on a row over repatriating the author's ashes

Choice: Talk

A Celebration of Kenneth Patchen, Tate Gallery, SW1 (0171-887 8922) 6.30pm

Choice: Opera: Paul Bunyan, Shaftesbury Theatre

Paul Bunyan, Shaftesbury Theatre, London

Theatre: Housman: a very private lad

Tom Stoppard's new play pries deep into the life of AE Housman, secretive author of A Shropshire Lad. It could be the making of the poet's reputation, writes Michael Glover

Diana - The Last Farewell: In search of a fitting elegy for `a private face in a public place'

As the banks of flowers have risen outside the palace gates, another kind of tribute has been mounting on my desk all week. Any glance at the memorial columns of a local paper will prove that, whatever their background, people will still turn to poetry to express their deepest, most troubling feelings.

Vice and verse

Richard D North, gets caught in the crossfire of poetry and petunias in Ledbury
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Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game