I haven’t had a chance to listen to much yet, and what I have listened to hasn’t really inspired me to listen to much more, but I figure some of you might be interested: I found a link over at Salon to several downloadable CDs worth of Dylan Thomas reading his and others’ poetry, with introductions by Billy Collins. The article requires the visitor to have a Premium membership or a day-pass, which means essentially that you’ll have to watch an ad (requiring Flash). Small price to pay for so large a bounty. I don’t know how long the files will be available, so I suggest getting while the getting’s good. I have been told that “Track 6 on disc 5, ‘Chard Whitlow,’ was written by Henry Reed as a lampoon of T.S. Eliot. Reed won a parody contest with it in 1941.…Thomas recites it while impersonating Eliot. The poem is funny, but the audience is laughing because even they found Eliot to be ‘pompous, silly, overwrought, stilted’ and ‘affected.'”
When it rains, it pours (unless it doesn’t, as when it sprinkles or drizzles or spits or…). Here’s Robert Frost reading some of his own poetry.
It’s so well known that it hardly needs posting… but I’m in a Drayton mood, I have posting privileges, and it should come as no surprise to anyone that I would spend my time doing things that hardly need doing.
by Michael Drayton
Since there’s no help, come, let us kiss and part;
Nay, I have done, you get no more of me,
And I am glad, yea glad with all my heart
That thus so cleanly I myself can free.
Shake hands for ever, cancel all our vows,
And, when we meet at any time again,
Be it not seen in either of our brows
That we one jot of former love retain.
Now at the last gasp of Love’s latest breath,
When, his pulse failing, Passion speechless lies,
When Faith is kneeling by his bed of death,
And Innocence is closing up his eyes—
Now if thou wouldst, when all have given him over,
From death to life thou might’st him yet recover.
And while I’m posting sonnets written hundreds of years ago, I may as well share one of the first I ever committed to memory. For a certain princess, with a toast to the After-Hours Committee:
Sonnet Upon a Stolen Kiss
by George Wither
Now gentle sleep hath closed up those eyes
Which waking kept my boldest thoughts in awe,
And free access unto that sweet lip lies,
From whence I long the rosy breath to draw;
Methinks no wrong it were if I should steal
From those two melting rubies one poor kiss;
None sees the theft that would the thief reveal,
Nor rob I her of ought which she can miss;
Nay, should I twenty kisses take away,
There would be little sign I had done so;
Why then should I this robbery delay?
Oh! she may wake, and therewith angry grow.
Well, if she do, I’ll back restore that one,
And twenty hundred thousand more for loan.