Arts and Entertainment The loss of happiness: Giacomo Leopardi

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

POETRY PLEASE

"Ledbury - Land of poets" proclaims the inaugural Ledbury Poetry Festival programme. You can forgive a newcomer to the cut-throat world of midsummer festivals pretty much any hubristic marketing ploy, especially when it's devoting itself to an artform that's as old as the hills, and subject to more ageist comments than an Eighties Radio 1 DJ. But this "picturesque and thriving" Herefordshire market town - "land" of poets? The alliteration hints at the justification: for it was on the nearby Malvern hills that William Langland set off on his Middle English epic Piers Ploughman: `In a somer seson, whan softe was the sonne'. The sun may be nowhere to be seen during the festival, but there should be plenty to transport you elsewhere. At the very least, coaches, providing visits to the area's poetic haunts: those of Langland, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and the Dymock poets, as well as the home of Ledbury's Poet Laureate, John Masefield. When you learn that WH Auden taught in the local school and got "married" to Thomas Mann's daughter, Erika, there, you might really start to wonder whether it shouldn't be "Ledbury: leyline of poets".

LET POETS EAT CAKE

When not crafting his poetry, W H Auden wrote to order: reviewing detective stories, penning encyclopaedia entries and writing for the BBC. A collection of his essays shows him happily working 'among the filthy', in prose

Like the village, the production is model

There's a moment in Die Meistersinger where Sachs the poet-cobbler tells Beckmesser the singing town-clerk, "You finish the song, I'll finish the shoes"; and though it's just a passing exchange, it touches on something important to the piece, namely the easy interaction between art and life in a world which Wagner has envisaged as a template for Arcadia. A world where barriers come down (except of course the one that keeps out foreigners) and culture claims its rightful place within the hearts of ordinary, decent (German) men and women.

Education: Passed/Failed: Robert Robinson

Robert Robinson, 69, presents `Brain of Britain', `Ad Lib' and, also on Radio 4, the forthcoming `Conversations With Strangers'. His autobiography, `Skip All That', was published at the end of last year.

The human condition: What really does become of the broken-hearted?

Losing the one you love not only makes you feel like death, it can literally make you ill. Jane Fitzgerald on the physical effects of heartbreak

Obituary:Ilona Ference

Ilona Ference was a talented and useful member of any theatrical production - although in appearance and temperament she was, in George Bernard Shaw's words, one of "Pharaoh's lean kind". She was one of those scrawny but admirable actresses - Mary Merrall, Joyce Carey and Una O'Connor spring to mind - who graced fine plays with fine performances even if they were perhaps precluded by their pert, bird-like qualities from full richness of character. As Athene Seyler used to say of her Prossie in Shaw's Candida, "Spare, my dear, spare."

When Igor Stravinsky met WH Auden

When Stravinsky invited Auden to come to Hollywood (from New York) in November, 1947, to work on the projected opera The Rake's Progress, Auden was, by his own admission, scared stiff. He had greatly admired the composer ever since, at age 16, he had bought Three Easy Pieces. But a week was a long time. Stravinsky might well turn out to be a tempestuous Russian prima donna. Should he, Auden, pack a dinner jacket? Kiss hands on arrival, a la russe?

Arts: Maps of the human heart

A map's contours can be as familiar as the lines on a loved one's face. They not only tell us where we are going, but where we have come from. By Roger Deakin

Poignant video that says: speed does kill

The assembled press was silent as the television screen went blank, and the minister, Steven Norris, was fighting back tears as he tried to speak. No one could disagree when he finally managed to blurt out that "this is the most powerful advertisement ever seen on British television".

Amour and avarice

profile: Claire Tomalin on a sharp eye that focused on the material advantages of love

Are you goin' to read my poem?

Today is National Poetry Day

ode to youth and beauty

In the run up to National Poetry Day, Dominic Cavendish asks: what does it take to be a poet these days?

Books we recommend...

The Redress of Poetry: Oxford Lectures by Seamus Heaney (Faber, pounds 15.99). The best lectures by an Oxford Professor of Poetry since WH Auden's 40 years ago.

Life: The fantasist that time forgot

Auden, MacNeice, Isherwood, Spender. Gone. But one writer, who once blazed as bright as the rest, survives. Jonathan Ford meets Edward Upward

The chain-smoking, plate-smashing mother of orgasms

Frieda Lawrence was infuriating, vital, lumpen-aristocratic, revolting - and wonderful. A Genius for Living: A Biography of Frieda Lawrence by Janet Byrne Bloomsbury, pounds 20
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
News
Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental overdose in 2007
people
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
Property
A cupboard on sale for £7,500 in London
lifeAnother baffling example of the capital’s housing crisis
News
news
News
i100
Career Services

Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home