Sir John Gielgud reads W. H. Davies's Leisure Leisure by W. H. Davies (1871-1940) What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare? — No time to stand beneath the boughs And stare as long as sheep or cows. No time to see, when woods we pass, Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass. No time to see, in broad daylight, Streams full of stars, like skies at night. No time to turn at Beauty's glance, And watch her feet, how they can dance. No time to wait till her mouth can Enrich that smile her eyes began. A poor life this if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning - Go From Me - Sonnet 6 - Read by Ghizela Rowe Go From Me Sonnet 6 by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) Go from me. Yet I feel that I shall stand Henceforth in thy shadow. Nevermore Alone upon the threshold of my door Of individual life, I shall command The uses of my soul, nor lift my hand Serenely in the sunshine as before, Without the sense of that which I forbore — Thy touch upon the palm. The widest land Doom takes to part us, leaves thy heart in mine With pulses that beat double. What I do And what I dream include thee, as the wine Must taste of its own grapes. And when I sue God for myself, He hears that name of thine, And sees within my eyes the tears of two.
Harold Pinter reads his poem It Is Here - Written for his wife Lady Antonia Fraser It Is Here by Harold Pinter (1930-2008) (For A) What sound was that? I turn away, into the shaking room. What was that sound that came in on the dark? What is this maze of light it leaves us in? What is this stance we take, to turn away and then turn back? What did we hear? It was the breath we took when we first met. Listen. It is here. 1990 ---------- Listen to Lady Antonia Fraser reading It Is Here: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xpvk65
Wendy Cope reads her poems Strugnell's Haiku Strugnell's Haiku by Wendy Cope (1945-) I'm going to read three poems by Jason Strugnell, a poet I invented. These are Strugnell's Haiku where I've tried to combine the feeling of Japaneses Haiku with the banality of poor old Strugnell: (i) The cherry blossom in my neighbors garden — Oh! IT looks really nice. (ii) The leaves have fallen And the snow has fallen and Soon my hair also ..... (iii) November evening: The moon is up, rooks settle, The pubs are open.
W. H. Auden reads his poem The Fall Of Rome The Fall Of Rome by W. H. Auden (1907-1973) The piers are pummelled by the waves; In a lonely field the rain Lashes an abandoned train; Outlaws fill the mountain caves. Fantastic grow the evening gowns; Agents of the Fisc pursue Absconding tax-defaulters through The sewers of provincial towns. Private rites of magic send The temple prostitutes to sleep; All the literati keep An imaginary friend. Cerebrotonic Cato may Extol the Ancient Disciplines, But the muscle-bound Marines Mutiny for food and pay. Caesar's double-bed is warm As an unimportant clerk Writes I DO NOT LIKE MY WORK On a pink official form. Unendowed with wealth or pity, Little birds with scarlet legs, Sitting on their speckled eggs, Eye each flu-infected city. Altogether elsewhere, vast Herds of reindeer move across Miles and miles of golden moss, Silently and very fast.
Carol Ann Duffy reads her poem Love Love by Carol Ann Duffy (1955-) Love is talent, the world love’s metaphor. Aflame, October’s leaves adore the wind, its urgent breath, whirl to their death. Not here, you’re everywhere The evening sky worships the ground, bears down, the land yearns back in darkening hills The night is empathy, stars in its eyes for tears. Not here, you’re where I stand, hearing the sea, crazy for the shore, seeing the moon ache and fret for the earth. When morning comes, the sun, ardent, covers the trees in gold, you walk towards me, out of the season, out of the light love reasons.
Stevie Smith reads her poem Not Waving But Drowning Not Waving But Drowning by Stevie Smith (1902-1971) Nobody heard him, the dead man, But still he lay moaning: I was much further out than you thought And not waving but drowning. Poor chap, he always loved larking And now he's dead It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way, They said. Oh, no no no, it was too cold always (Still the dead one lay moaning) I was much too far out all my life And not waving but drowning.
Sir Anthony Quayle reads Sir Philip Sidney's My True-Love Hath My Heart And I Have His My True-Love Hath My Heart And I Have His by Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586) My true-love hath my heart, and I have his, By just exchange one for the other given: I hold his dear, and mine he cannot miss; There never was a bargain better driven. His heart in me keeps me and him in one, My heart in him his thoughts and senses guides; He loves my heart for once it was his own; I cherish his because in me it bides. His heart his wound receivèd from my sight; My heart was wounded with his wounded heart; For as from me on him his hurt did light, So still methought in me his hurt did smart: Both equal hurt, in this change sought our bliss, My true love hath my heart and I have his.
W. H. Auden reads his poem In Memory Of W. B. Yeats In Memory Of W. B. Yeats by W. H. Auden (1907-1973) I He disappeared in the dead of winter: The brooks were frozen, the airports almost deserted, And snow disfigured the public statues; The mercury sank in the mouth of the dying day. O all the instruments agree The day of his death was a dark cold day. Far from his illness The wolves ran on through the evergreen forests, The peasant river was untempted by the fashionable quays; By mourning tongues The death of the poet was kept from his poems. But for him it was his last afternoon as himself, An afternoon of nurses and rumours; The provinces of his body revolted, The squares of his mind were empty, Silence invaded the suburbs, The current of his feeling failed; he became his admirers. Now he is scattered among a hundred cities And wholly given over to unfamiliar affections, To find his happiness in another kind of wood And be punished under a foreign code of conscience. The words of a dead man Are modified in the guts of the living. But in the importance and noise of to-morrow When the brokers are roaring like beasts on the floor of the Bourse, And the poor have the sufferings to which they are fairly accustomed, And each in the cell of himself is almost convinced of his freedom, A few thousand will think of this day As one thinks of a day when one did something slightly unusual. O all the instruments agree The day of his death was a dark cold day. II You were silly like us; your gift survived it all: The parish of rich women, physical decay, Yourself. Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry. Now Ireland has her madness and her weather still, For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives In the valley of its saying where executives Would never want to tamper; it flows south From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs, Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives, A way of happening, a mouth. III Earth, receive an honoured guest: William Yeats is laid to rest. Let the Irish vessel lie Emptied of its poetry. Time that is intolerant, Of the brave and innocent, And indifferent in a week To a beautiful physique, Worships language and forgives Everyone by whome it lives; Pardons cowardice, conceit, Lays its honours at their feet. In the nightmare of the dark All the dogs of Europe bark, And the living nations wait, Each sequestered in its hate; Intellectual disgrace Stares from every human face, And the seas of pity lie Locked and frozen in each eye. Follow, poet, follow right To the bottom of the night, With your unconstraining voice Still persuade us to rejoice; With the farming of a verse Make a vineyard of the curse, Sing of human unsuccess In a rapture of distress; In the deserts of the heart Let the healing fountain start, In the prison of his days Teach the free man how to praise.
T. S. Eliot reads his poem Preludes Preludes by T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) I The winter evening settles down With smell of steaks in passageways. Six o'clock. The burnt-out ends of smoky days. And now a gusty shower wraps The grimy scraps Of withered leaves about your feet And newspapers from vacant lots; The showers beat On broken blinds and chimney-pots, And at the corner of the street A lonely cab-horse steams and stamps. And then the lighting of the lamps. II The morning comes to consciousness Of faint stale smells of beer From the sawdust-trampled street With all its muddy feet that press To early coffee-stands. With the other masquerades That time resumes, One thinks of all the hands That are raising dingy shades In a thousand furnished rooms. III You tossed a blanket from the bed, You lay upon your back, and waited; You dozed, and watched the night revealing The thousand sordid images Of which your soul was constituted; They flickered against the ceiling. And when all the world came back And the light crept up between the shutters, And you heard the sparrows in the gutters, You had such a vision of the street As the street hardly understands; Sitting along the bed's edge, where You curled the papers from your hair, Or clasped the yellow soles of feet In the palms of both soiled hands. IV His soul stretched tight across the skies That fade behind a city block, Or trampled by insistent feet At four and five and six o'clock And short square fingers stuffing pipes, And evening newspapers, and eyes Assured of certain certainties, The conscience of a blackened street Impatient to assume the world. I am moved by fancies that are curled Around these images, and cling: The notion of some infinitely gentle Infinitely suffering thing. Wipe your hand across your mouth, and laugh; The worlds revolve like ancient women Gathering fuel in vacant lots.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti - The Kiss - Read by Tim Graham The Kiss by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) What smouldering senses in death's sick delay Or seizure of malign vicissitude Can rob this body of honour, or denude This soul of wedding-raiment worn to-day? For lo! even now my lady's lips did play With these my lips such consonant interlude As laurelled Orpheus longed for when he wooed The half-drawn hungering face with that last lay. I was a child beneath her touch, — a man When breast to breast we clung, even I and she, — A spirit when her spirit looked through me, — A god when all our life-breath met to fan Our life-blood, till love's emulous ardours ran, Fire within fire, desire in deity.
William Wordsworth - To The Daisy - Read by Richard Mitchley To The Daisy by William Wordsworth (1770-1850) In youth from rock to rock I went, From hill to hill in discontent Of pleasure high and turbulent, Most pleased when most uneasy; But now my own delights I make, — My thirst at every rill can slake, And gladly Nature's love partake Of Thee, sweet Daisy! Thee Winter in the garland wears That thinly decks his few grey hairs; Spring parts the clouds with softest airs, That she may sun thee; Whole Summer-fields are thine by right; And Autumn, melancholy wight! Doth in thy crimson head delight When rains are on thee. In shoals and bands, a morrice train, Thou greet'st the traveller in the lane, Pleased at his greeting thee again; Yet nothing daunted, Nor grieved, if thou be set at nought: And oft alone in nooks remote We meet thee, like a pleasant thought, When such are wanted. Be violets in their secret mews The flowers the wanton Zephyrs choose; Proud be the rose, with rains and dews Her head impearling; Thou liv'st with less ambitious aim, Yet hast not gone without thy fame; Thou art indeed by many a claim The Poet's darling. If to a rock from rains he fly, Or, some bright day of April sky, Imprisoned by hot sunshine lie Near the green holly, And wearily at length should fare; He needs but look about, and there Thou art! — a friend at hand, to scare His melancholy. A hundred times, by rock or bower, Ere thus I have lain couched an hour, Have I derived from thy sweet power Some apprehension; Some steady love; some brief delight; Some memory that had taken flight; Some chime of fancy wrong or right; Or stray invention. If stately passions in me burn, And one chance look to Thee should turn, I drink out of a humbler urn A lowlier pleasure; The homely sympathy that heeds The common life our nature breeds; A wisdom fitted to the needs Of hearts at leisure. Fresh smitten by the morning ray, When thou art up, alert and gay, Then, cheerful Flower! my spirits play With kindred gladness: And when, at dusk, by dews oppressed Thou sink'st, the image of thy rest Hath often eased my pensive breast Of careful sadness. And all day long I number yet, All seasons through, another debt, Which I, wherever thou art met, To thee am owing; An instinct call it, a blind sense; A happy, genial influence, Coming one knows not how, nor whence, Nor whither going. Child of the Year! that round dost run Thy course, bold lover of the sun, And cheerful when the day's begun As lark or leveret, Thy long-lost praise thou shalt regain; Nor be less dear to future men Than in old time; — thou not in vain Art Nature's favourite.
William Henry Davies - All In June - Read by Richard Mitchley All In June by William Henry Davies (1871-1940) A week ago I had a fire To warm my feet, my hands and face; Cold winds, that never make a friend, Crept in and out of every place. Today the fields are rich in grass, And buttercups in thousands grow; I'll show the world where I have been — With gold-dust seen on either shoe. Till to my garden back I come, Where bumble-bees for hours and hours Sit on their soft, fat, velvet bums, To wriggle out of hollow flowers.
William Henry Davies - Laughing Rose - Read by Richard Mitchley Laughing Rose by William Henry Davies (1871-1940) If I were gusty April now, How I would blow at laughing Rose; I'd make her ribbons slip their knots, And all her hair come loose. If I were merry April now, How I would pelt her cheeks with showers; I'd make carnations, rich and warm, Of her vermillion flowers. Since she will laugh in April's face No matter how he rains or blows — Then O that I wild April were, To play with laughing Rose.
Emily Bronte - Fall, Leaves, Fall - Read by Ghizela Rowe Fall, Leaves, Fall by Emily Bronte (1820-1849) Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away; Lengthen night and shorten day; Every leaf speaks bliss to me Fluttering from the autumn tree. I shall smile when wreaths of snow Blossom where the rose should grow; I shall sing when night's decay Ushers in a drearier day.
Christina Rossetti - Song - Read by Emma Topping Song by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) Two doves upon the selfsame branch, Two lilies on a single stem, Two butterflies upon one flower: — O happy they who look on them. Who look upon them hand in hand Flushed in the rosy summer light; Who look upon them hand in hand And never give a thought to night.
Alfred Lord Tennyson - The Oak - Read by Richard Mitchley The Oak by Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) Live thy Life, Young and old, Like yon oak, Bright in spring, Living gold; Summer-rich Then; and then Autumn-changed Soberer-hued Gold again. All his leaves Fall'n at length, Look, he stands, Trunk and bough Naked strength.
Christina Rossetti - Is The Moon Tired? - Read by Ghizela Rowe Is The Moon Tired? by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) Is the Moon tired? She looks so pale Within her misty veil; She scales the sky from east to west, And takes no rest. Before the coming of the night The Moon shows papery white; Before the dawning of the day, She fades away.
Christina Rossetti - Summer Is Ended - Read by Ghizela Rowe Summer Is Ended by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) To think that this meaningless thing was ever a rose, Scentless, colourless, this! Will it ever be thus (who knows?) Thus with our bliss, If we wait till the close? Though we care not to wait for the end, there comes the end Sooner, later, at last, Which nothing can mar, nothing mend: An end locked fast, Bent we cannot re-bend.