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poetry for the ear in the tradition of blind Homer 

POEMA AD LIBITUM, Fortnight I (March 22 - April 4 2009)
chosen at the discretion of your reader, with his notes where appropriate.

Click HERE for listing for other fortnights of the Poema ad Libitum series.

Posted June 24, 2004 2330 GMT:

William Cartwright [1611-1643]: One of the English metaphysical poets on this website.
On a Virtuous Young Gentlewoman That Died Suddenly
On the Queen's Return from the Low Countries [0:54]
A son of Ben Jonson, Cartwright was well-known as a preacher and theologian as well as poet and playwright.  He died at the early age of 32, but was so well-known and appreciated by then that the King dressed in mourning on the day of his death. - W.R.E.

[no picture]

Posted June 23, 2004 1930

Alfred, Lord Tennyson [1809-1883]: Ulysses [3:51]  
Hear also Tithonus - another classical theme in monologue form treated at length by Tennyson.  Ulysses is set in the mind of the aging Greek warrior (Odysseus in ancient Greek), at times with direct address to some of his old fellow travellers, coaxing them into one last voyage.  A classic poem for "seniors" of any era.  - W.R.E.

Posted June 23, 2004 0017 GMT:

John Donne [1573-1631][English Theologian, Preacher and Poet]:
Meditation XVII: "For whom the bell tolls" [4:16]
One of the English metaphysical poets on this website.
Like St. Augustine ("Confessions"), John Donne knew the roadmaps of romantic love and the love of God abut equally, though the ultimate trend in each man's case was never in doubt.  As for the subtitle, this was the name of an American film and novel (Ernest Hemingway's) about one man's fate / courage in the context of the Spanish Civil War.  - W.R.E.

Posted June 22, 2004 2045 GMT:

William Blake [1757-1827][English mystic, engraver, painter, poet]: A trio of poems from Songs of Experience:
The Chimney Sweeper [0:36]; The Sick Rose [0:20]; The Tyger [0:59]

Posted June 22, 2004 2230 GMT:

Dylan Thomas [1914-1953][Welsh]:
Poem on His Birthday [4:15][his thirty-fifth, four years before his death at 39]
Note (1): A major poem written at the height of his powers but with a certain prescience how his own life was to end.  Note (2): Thomas was not a thoroughgoing original (one fell-swoop proof is his predecessor Gerard Manley Hopkins).  Note (3): If there were such an audio poetry prize as the Homer, surely Dylan Thomas would have been elected to that honor.  We are fortunate to have many audio recordings of his works in his own voice: (Caedmon Collection) - W.R.E.

Posted June 21, 2004 2230 GMT:

Rupert Brooke [1887-1915]:
The Fish
[1914] [3:30] 
The Soldier ("If I should die, think only this of me. . .")[0:53]
"A young Apollo, golden-haired,
Stands dreaming on the verge of strife,
Magnificently unprepared
For the long littleness of life."
             - quatrain by Frances Cornford [listen]

Click HERE to read Brooke's obituary by Winston Churchill (1915).  Cornford's quatrain, together with the obituary by Churchill, make a powerful summary of what England lost in the passing of this gifted, promising, but never-to-be-great poet.  - W.R.E.

Posted June 21, 2004 0545 GMT:

Robert Browning [1812-1889]:
My Last Duchess
[3:08] is a self-contained dramatic monologue which deserves repeated hearing and/or reading, not to get the narrative drift but to appreciate Browning's psychological profile of a disreputable character caught up in the cross-currents of autocracy-in-aristocracy.  Compare also Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister [3:08] and The Bishop Orders His Tomb at St. Praxed's Church (not yet recorded).   - W.R.E.

Posted June 20, 2004 1955 GMT:

Andrew Marvell [1621-1678]:
To His Coy Mistress [2:06]  
This poem, from the Metaphysical Poets movement that followed the Elizabethan period, was a favorite of T. S. Eliot, as it has been mine for all of my life  - W.R.E.

Posted June 19, 2004 2306 GMT:

Thomas Hardy  [1840-1928]:
      The Darkling Thrush [1:17]
      The Convergence of the Twain (Lines on the loss of theTitanic) [1:28]
      The Going [1:46]
These are my favorite poems by the great novelist Thomas Hardy.  The first two strive to restrain Form from a natural dominance (and succeed), while the last one strives, similarly, to restrain Substance and succeeds brilliantly.  - W.R.E.  (P.S.  A large number of Hardy's poems will be appearing on this site during the year 2004.)

Posted June 18, 2004 1801

William Butler Yeats [1865-1939]:
The Wild Swans at Coole [1:21]
Lake Isle of Innesfree [3rd recording][1:14]
   Sailing to Byzantium [1:31]
Yeats received the Nobel Prize for Literature for 1923, and is Ireland's greatest playwright and poet.  His writings influenced the next generation of British poets: Listen to the memorial poem by W. H. Auden, In Memory of W. B. Yeats"Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry." and ". . . for poetry makes nothing happen . . ."  My personal favorites are the three poems above.  - W.R.E.

Posted June 18, 2004 0001 GMT:

Alfred, Lord Tennyson [1809-1883]: Tithonus [4:17]
Concerning his poem, Tithonus, Tennyson borrowed from the Greek myth of Eos, Goddess of the Dawn, and Tithonus, a mortal.  The goddess stole him away and "asked [Jupiter] for Tithonus to be immortal, but she forgot to ask for eternal youth. Tithonus indeed lived forever but grew more and more ancient, eventually turning into a cricket."  [source: the free Internet encyclopedia, Wikipedia.] - W.R.E.  [return to Ulysses]

Posted June 17, 2004 0339 GMT:  

John Clare
[1793-1864]: Written in Northampton County Asylum [1:14].  Passed along with the sole comment that one need not have traveled as far as did John Clare or Gerard de Nerval into "that other bourne" beyond Alice's glass: Just a glimpse will do. . .     - W.R.E.

Recorded and Posted June 14, 2004 2000 GMT:  

Edward Thomas [1878-1917]: Words [1:15]  See also British, American and Canadian Poets of World War I.  Thomas was encouraged in his poetry by the American poet Robert Frost.  - W.R.E.

Posted June 12, 2004 1920 GMT:  

Ezra Pound
  Envoi [1:04];    
Hear also Edmund Waller
[1606-1687]: Go, Lovely Rose [0:46]  Another example of pairing, again across a span of three hundred years (see Skelton & Southey, below).  -W.R.E.

Posted June 8, 2004 2335 GMT:  Recorded August 23, 2003 by W.R.E.  Re-recorded today in honor of America's great imagist poet.

Amy Lowell [1874-1925]: Venus Transiens [0:44]  Lowell was born in 1874, the year of the Transit of Venus (another transit occurred on December 6, 1882 when Amy was eight years old). The next transit occurred today, June 8, 2004.  In honor of the poet I have re-recorded the poem today. -- W.R.E.

Recorded and Posted June 7, 2004 0130 GMT

Adela Florence Nicholson Cory aka Laurence Hope [1865-1904]:
Kashmiri Song (Pale hands I loved beside the Shalimar) [0:47]
The Net of Memory [0:38]
No one, with any certainty, can sort out the truth from the legend of this remarkable English poet, who was married to a British India Service officer many years her senior.  He died of heart failure, supposedly, on discovering that she had been unfaithful to him with an Indian prince.  She took her own life shortly after her husband's death.  These tales have become the stuff of romantic legend, but in truth no one knows The Truth  - W.R.E.
Posted June 7, 2004 2007 GMT

An unlikely pairing across three hundred years:
John Skelton [1460?-1529]: From Colin Clout [1:20] [no picture] and 
Robert Southey [1774-1843]: The Cataract of Lodore [3:33] 

Click on the poet's image to see an enlargement.

Recorded and Posted June 6, 2004 2335 GMT

Wm. Shakespeare [15641616]:
Sonnets IX and X:
Is it for fear to wet a widow's eye [0:56]  
For shame deny that thou bear'st love to any

William Shakespeare [1564-1616] was the greatest playwright the world has ever known.  
His plays were largely written in unrhymed but metrical (iambic pentameter) verse.
His sonnets, in rhymed iambic pentameter, were private in nature, as is nearly all lyrical poetry, and although he drew from the past (Sir Thomas WyattSir Philip Sidney, Michael DraytonHenry Constable, Samuel Daniel and Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke were among his progenitors and contemporaries in the practice [sometimes public, more often private] of the sonnet form following Petrarch), he set a standard for English-speaking sonneteers to follow, including Edward, Lord Herbert of Cherbury, John Donne, John Milton, William Wordsworth, Christina & Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Matthew Arnold, John Keats, Gerard Manley Hopkins and many others including the twentieth century poets Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Owen, R. P. Blackmur and Edna St. Vincent Millay. - W.R.E.
Posted May 24, 2004:

R. P. Blackmur
Judas Priest [3:08]
[a quartet of sonnets]  [no picture]                                  
Richard P. ("R. P.") Blackmur
is more remembered these days, at the outset of the 21st century, as a literary critic, although "He preferred to think of himself as a poet." 
  [-Denis Donoghue] Be that as it may, his poetic 
works (he wrote three books and a collection) are out of print as of the date of this writing. 
It is still possible, on the other hand, to find three of his in-print titles of literary criticism at Amazon Books. 
      We at Eaglesweb have set out to redress a wrong: the current neglect (in print) and omission (from the Web - text and audio) of a major American poet and critic. His admiration of, and homage to, the Elizabethan sonnet form in his own work assures his place as a practitioner of discipline and vitality, who had an ear for history and a voice for the future of his craft. My own favorite poem by Blackmur is Mirage, a miniature work with astonishing imagery. - W.R.E.
Posted May 10, 2004: 

Dante Gabriel Rossetti [1828-1882]: 
Sonnet: Heart's Hope

Dante Gabriel Rossetti [1828-1882] (not forgetting his sister Christina, a sonneteer also and arguably il miglior fabbro, represents the Pre-Raphaelite school of art and poetry on While they lived and flourished during the Victorian era, the Rossettis had their own aesthetics, which were broader than the "Rossetti Woman" image commonly associated with the paintings. Thus Dante Gabriel's poems usually have mysticism and not 'carnal' or particularized beauty as its aim. On the other hand, Christina's poetry has the power and emotional force of the "Rossetti Woman" as a particularized, though internal reality. - W.R.E.
Hear also his sister's poetry:
Christina Rossetti [1830-1896]:
After Death [0:50]
When I am Dead, my Dearest [0:40]
Sleeping at Last [0:43]

(Shown is one of D.G.R.'s many paintings of Christina as an artist's model.)

Click on the poet's name above to go to his or her page.  Click on the name of the poem to hear the reading.
     All audio recordings copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 Walter Rufus Eagles.
All audio reproduction rights reserved.

The obituary of Rupert Brooke written by Winston Churchill follows [1915]:

    Rupert Brooke is dead. A telegram from the Admiral at Lemnos tells us that this life has closed at the moment when it seemed to have reached its springtime. A voice had become audible, a note had been struck, more true, more thrilling, more able to do justice to the nobility of our youth in arms engaged in this present war, than any other more able to express their thoughts of self-surrender, and with a power to carry comfort to those who watch them so intently from afar. The voice has been swiftly stilled. Only the echoes and the memory remain; but they will linger.

    During the last few months of his life, months of preparation in gallant comradeship and open air, the poet-soldier told with all the simple force of genius the sorrow of youth about to die, and the sure triumphant consolations of a sincere and valiant spirit. He expected to die: he was willing to die for the dear England whose beauty and majesty he knew: and he advanced towards the brink in perfect serenity, with absolute conviction of the rightness of his country's cause and a heart devoid of hate for fellow-men.

    The thoughts to which he gave expression in the very few incomparable war sonnets which he has left behind will be shared by many thousands of young men moving resolutely and blithely forward in this, the hardest, the cruelest, and the least-rewarded of all the wars that men have fought. They are a whole history and revelation of Rupert Brooke himself. Joyous, fearless, versatile, deeply instructed, with classic symmetry of mind and body, ruled by high undoubting purpose, he was all that one would wish England's noblest sons to be in the days when no sacrifice but the most precious is acceptable, and the most precious is that which is most freely proffered.


Click HERE to go forward to POEMA AD LIBITUM, Fortnight II (June 25 - July 8, 2004)
Click HERE to go forward to POEMA AD LIBITUM, Fortnight III (July 9 - July 22, 2004)
Click HERE to go forward to POEMA AD LIBITUM, Fortnight IV-V (July 23 - August 19, 2004)
Click HERE to go forward to POEMA AD LIBITUM, Fortnight VI (August 20  - September 2, 2004)
Click HERE to go forward to POEMA AD LIBITUM, Fortnight VII (September 3  - September 16, 2004)
Click HERE to go forward to POEMA AD LIBITUM, Fortnight VIII (September 17 - September 30, 2004)
Click HERE to go forward to POEMA AD LIBITUM, Fortnight IX (October 1 - October 14, 2004)
Click HERE to go forward to POEMA AD LIBITUM, Fortnight X (October 15 - October 28, 2004)
Click HERE to go forward to POEMA AD LIBITUM, Fortnight XI (October 29- November 11, 2004)
Click HERE to go forward to POEMA AD LIBITUM, Fortnight XII (November 12- November 25, 2004)
Click HERE to go forward to POEMA AD LIBITUM, Fortnight XIII (November 26 - December 9, 2004)
Click HERE to go forward to POEMA AD LIBITUM, Fortnight XIV (December 10 - December 23, 2004)

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