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Classic Poetry Aloud

Classic Poetry Aloud gives voice to poetry through podcast recordings of the great poems of the past. Our library of poems is intended as a resource for anyone interested in reading and listening to poetry. For us, it's all about the listening, and how hearing a poem can make it more accessible, as well as heightening its emotional impact.See more at: www.classicpoetryaloud.com

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318. Discipline by George Herbert

G Herbert read by Classic Poetry Aloud:http://www.classicpoetryaloud.com/Giving voice to the poetry of the past.---------------------------------------------Disciplineby George Herbert (1593 – 1632)Throw away Thy rod,Throw away Thy wrath; O my God,Take the gentle path!For my heart's desireUnto Thine is bent: I aspireTo a full consent.Not a word or lookI affect to own, But by book,And Thy Book alone.Though I fail, I weep;Though I halt in pace, Yet I creepTo the throne of grace.Then let wrath remove;Love will do the deed; For with loveStony hearts will bleed.Love is swift of foot;Love 's a man of war, And can shoot,And can hit from far.Who can 'scape his bow?That which wrought on Thee, Brought Thee low,Needs must work on me.Throw away Thy rod;Though man frailties hath, Thou art God:Throw away Thy wrath!First aired: 12 August 2008For hundreds more poetry readings, visit the Classic Poetry Aloud index.Reading © Classic Poetry Aloud 2008

1min

16 Aug 2008

Rank #1

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468. The Valley of Unrest by Edgar Allan Poe

EA Poe read by Classic Poetry Aloud:http://www.classicpoetryaloud.com/Giving voice to the poetry of the past.---------------------------------------The Valley of Unrestby Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849)Once it smiled a silent dell Where the people did not dwell; They had gone unto the wars, Trusting to the mild-eyed stars, Nightly, from their azure towers, To keep watch above the flowers, In the midst of which all day The red sun-light lazily lay. Now each visiter shall confess The sad valley's restlessness. Nothing there is motionless — Nothing save the airs that brood Over the magic solitude. Ah, by no wind are stirred those trees That palpitate like the chill seas Around the misty Hebrides! Ah, by no wind those clouds are driven That rustle through the unquiet Heaven Uneasily, from morn till even, Over the violets there that lie In myriad types of the human eye — Over the lilies there that wave And weep above a nameless grave! They wave: — from out their fragrant tops Eternal dews come down in drops. They weep: — from off their delicate stemsPerennial tears descend in gems.First aired: 25 April 2009For hundreds more poetry readings, visit the Classic Poetry Aloud index.Reading © Classic Poetry Aloud 2009

1min

25 Apr 2009

Rank #2

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320. Because I could not stop for Death by Emily Dickinson

E Dickinson read by Classic Poetry Aloud: http://www.classicpoetryaloud.com/ Giving voice to the poetry of the past. ---------------------------------------------------Because I could not stop for Death by Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886) Because I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me; The carriage held but just ourselves And Immortality. We slowly drove, he knew no haste, And I had put away My labor, and my leisure too, For his civility. We passed the school where children played At wrestling in a ring; We passed the fields of gazing grain, We passed the setting sun. We paused before a house that seemed A swelling of the ground; The roof was scarcely visible, The cornice but a mound. Since then ’t is centuries; but each Feels shorter than the day I first surmised the horses’ heads Were toward eternity.  First aired: 23 September 2007For hundreds more poetry readings, visit the Classic Poetry Aloud index.Reading © Classic Poetry Aloud 2008

1min

18 Aug 2008

Rank #3

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462. The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

EA Poe read by Classic Poetry Aloud:http://www.classicpoetryaloud.com/Giving voice to the poetry of the past.---------------------------------------The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849)Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,— While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. "'T is some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door; Only this and nothing more." Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor. Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore, For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore: Nameless here for evermore. And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before; So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating "'T is some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door, Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door: This it is and nothing more." Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer, "Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore; But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping, And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door, That I scarce was sure I heard you"—here I opened wide the door:— Darkness there and nothing more. Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing, Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before; But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token, And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore?" This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore:" Merely this and nothing more. Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning, Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before. "Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice; Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore; Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore: 'T is the wind and nothing more." Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter, In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore. Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he; But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door, Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door: Perched, and sat, and nothing more. Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,— "Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven, Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore: Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore." Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly, Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore; For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door, Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door, With such name as "Nevermore." But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour. Nothing further then he uttered, not a feather then he fluttered, Till I scarcely more than muttered,—"Other friends have flown before; On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before." Then the bird said, "Nevermore." Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken, "Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store, Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore: Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore Of 'Never—nevermore.' But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling, Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door; Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore, What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore Meant in croaking "Nevermore." This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core; This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o'er, But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er She shall press, ah, nevermore! Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer Swung by seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor. "Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!" Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore." Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore." "Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! prophet still, if bird or devil! Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore, Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted— On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore: Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore." "Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil—prophet still, if bird or devil! By that Heaven that bends above us, by that God we both adore, Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn, It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore: Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore." "Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!" I shrieked, upstarting: "Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore! Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken! Leave my loneliness unbroken! quit the bust above my door! Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore." And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door; And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming, And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor: And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted—nevermore!First aired: 29 February 2008For hundreds more poetry readings, visit the Classic Poetry Aloud index.Reading © Classic Poetry Aloud 2009

8mins

17 Apr 2009

Rank #4

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334. The Harlot’s House by Oscar Wilde

O Wilde read by Classic Poetry Aloud: http://www.classicpoetryaloud.com/ Giving voice to the poetry of the past. --------------------------------------------------- The Harlot’s House by Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900) We caught the tread of dancing feet, We loitered down the moonlit street, And stopped beneath the harlot's house. Inside, above the din and fray, We heard the loud musicians play The "Treues Liebes Herz" of Strauss. Like strange mechanical grotesques, Making fantastic arabesques, The shadows raced across the blind. We watched the ghostly dancers spin To sound of horn and violin, Like black leaves wheeling in the wind. Like wire-pulled automatons, Slim silhouetted skeletons Went sidling through the slow quadrille. They took each other by the hand, And danced a stately saraband; Their laughter echoed thin and shrill. Sometimes a clockwork puppet pressed A phantom lover to her breast, Sometimes they seemed to try to sing.For hundreds more poetry readings, visit the Classic Poetry Aloud index.Reading © Classic Poetry Aloud 2008

2mins

5 Sep 2008

Rank #5

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473. Because I Liked you Better by AE Housman

AE Housman read by Classic Poetry Aloud:http://www.classicpoetryaloud.com/Giving voice to the poetry of the past.---------------------------------------Because I liked you betterby AE Housman (1859 – 1936)Because I liked you betterThan suits a man to say,It irked you, and I promisedTo throw the thought away. To put the world between usWe parted, stiff and dry;"Good-bye," said you, "forget me.""I will, no fear," said I. If here, where clover whitensThe dead man's knoll, you pass,And no tall flower to meet youStarts in the trefoiled grass, Halt by the headstone namingThe heart no longer stirred,And say the lad that loved youWas one that kept his word. First aired: 17 March 2008For hundreds more poetry readings, visit the Classic Poetry Aloud index.Reading © Classic Poetry Aloud 2009

1min

12 May 2009

Rank #6

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335. What is Life? by John Clare

J Clare read by Classic Poetry Aloud: http://www.classicpoetryaloud.com/ Giving voice to classic poetry. --------------------------------------------------- What is Life? by John Clare (1793 – 1864) And what is Life? An hour-glass on the run, A mist retreating from the morning sun, A busy, bustling, still-repeated dream. Its length? A minute's pause, a moment's thought. And Happiness? A bubble on the stream, That in the act of seizing shrinks to nought. And what is Hope? The puffing gale of morn, That of its charms divests the dewy lawn, And robs each flow'ret of its gem -and dies; A cobweb, hiding disappointment's thorn, Which stings more keenly through the thin disguise. And what is Death? Is still the cause unfound? That dark mysterious name of horrid sound? A long and lingering sleep the weary crave. And Peace? Where can its happiness abound? Nowhere at all, save heaven and the grave. Then what is Life? When stripped of its disguise, A thing to be desired it cannot be; Since everything that meets our foolish eyes Gives proof sufficient of its vanity. 'Tis but a trial all must undergo, To teach unthankful mortals how to prize That happiness vain man's denied to know, Until he's called to claim it in the skies.Comments For more information on this unjustly neglected 19th Century poet, visit http://www.johnclare.org.uk/ First aired: 10 October, 2007 For hundreds more poetry readings, visit the Classic Poetry Aloud index. Reading © Classic Poetry Aloud 2008

1min

6 Sep 2008

Rank #7

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470. Sleep by Sir Philip Sidney

P Sidney read by Classic Poetry Aloud:http://www.classicpoetryaloud.com/Giving voice to the poetry of the past.---------------------------------------Sleepby Sir Philip Sidney (1554 – 1586)Come, Sleep; O Sleep! the certain knot of peace,The baiting-place of wit, the balm of woe,The poor man's wealth, the prisoner's release,Th' indifferent judge between the high and low;With shield of proof shield me from out the preaseOf those fierce darts Despair at me doth throw:O make in me those civil wars to cease;I will good tribute pay, if thou do so.Take thou of me smooth pillows, sweetest bed,A chamber deaf to noise and blind of light,A rosy garland and a weary head;And if these things, as being thine by right, Move not thy heavy grace, thou shalt in me, Livelier than elsewhere, Stella's image see.First aired: 28 March 2008For hundreds more poetry readings, visit the Classic Poetry Aloud index.Reading © Classic Poetry Aloud 2009

1min

27 Apr 2009

Rank #8

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485. Claire de Lune by Paul Verlaine

P Verlaine read by Classic Poetry Aloud:http://www.classicpoetryaloud.com/Giving voice to the poetry of the past.---------------------------------------Claire de Luneby Paul Verlaine (1844 – 1896)Votre âme est un paysage choisiQue vont charmant masques et bergamasquesJouant du luth et dansant et quasiTristes sous leurs déguisements fantasques.Tout en chantant sur le mode mineurL'amour vainqueur et la vie opportuneIls n'ont pas l'air de croire à leur bonheurEt leur chanson se mêle au clair de lune,Au calme clair de lune triste et beau,Qui fait rêver les oiseaux dans les arbresEt sangloter d'extase les jets d'eau,Les grands jets d'eau sveltes parmi les marbres.Claire de Luneby Paul Verlaine (1844 – 1896)Your soul is a chosen landscapeWhere charming masked and costumed figures goPlaying the lute and dancing and almostSad beneath their fantastic disguises.All sing in a minor keyOf all-conquering love and careless fortuneThey do not seem to believe in their happinessAnd their song mingles with the moonlight.The still moonlight, sad and beautiful,Which gives the birds to dream in the treesAnd makes the fountain sprays sob in ecstasy,The tall, slender fountain sprays among the marble statues.First aired: 14 April 2008For hundreds more poetry readings, visit the Classic Poetry Aloud index.Reading © Classic Poetry Aloud 2009

2mins

17 Jun 2009

Rank #9

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418. I Have a Rendezvous with Death by Alan Seeger

A Seeger read by Classic Poetry Aloud: Giving voice to the poetry of the past.www.classicpoetryaloud.com--------------------------------------------I Have a Rendezvous with Deathby Alan Seeger (1888 – 1916)I have a rendezvous with Death At some disputed barricade, When Spring comes back with rustling shade And apple-blossoms fill the air – I have a rendezvous with DeathWhen Spring brings back blue days and fair. It may be he shall take my hand And lead me into his dark land And close my eyes and quench my breath – It may be I shall pass him still. I have a rendezvous with Death On some scarred slope of battered hill, When Spring comes round again this year And the first meadow-flowers appear. God knows 'twere better to be deep Pillowed in silk and scented down, Where love throbs out in blissful sleep, Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath, Where hushed awakenings are dear... But I've a rendezvous with Death At midnight in some flaming town, When Spring trips north again this year, And I to my pledged word am true, I shall not fail that rendezvous. First aired: 15 February 2008For hundreds more poetry readings, visit the Classic Poetry Aloud index.Reading © Classic Poetry Aloud 2009

1min

2 Feb 2009

Rank #10

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587. O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman read by Classic Poetry Aloud:http://www.classicpoetryaloud.comGiving voice to poetry of the past.----------------------------------- O Captain! My Captain!by Walt Whitman (1819 – 1892)O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done; The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won; The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring: But O heart! heart! heart! O the bleeding drops of red, Where on the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead. O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells; Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills; For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding; For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning; Here Captain! dear father! This arm beneath your head; It is some dream that on the deck, You’ve fallen cold and dead. My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still; My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will; The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done; From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won; Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells! But I, with mournful tread, Walk the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead. Reading © Classic Poetry Aloud, 2008.

2mins

23 Oct 2013

Rank #11

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616. Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare read by Classic Poetry Aloudwww.classicpoetryaloud.comTwitter: @classicpoetryFacebook: www.facebook.com/poetryaloudGiving voice to the poetry of the past.---------------------------------------------------Sonnet 18by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate: Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer's lease hath all too short a date: Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, And often is his gold complexion dimm'd; And every fair from fair sometime declines, By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimm'd; But thy eternal summer shall not fade, Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest; Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade, When in eternal lines to time thou growest; So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.Reading © Classic Poetry Aloud, 2007.

1min

16 Dec 2013

Rank #12

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338. When Lilacs Last in the Door-yard Bloom’d by Walt Whitman

W Whitman read by Classic Poetry Aloud: http://www.classicpoetryaloud.com/ Giving voice to the poetry of the past. --------------------------------------------- When Lilacs Last in the Door-yard Bloom’d from Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman (1819 – 1892) This reading lasts some 20 minutes.1 When lilacs last in the door-yard bloom’d, And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night, I mourn’d—and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring. O ever-returning spring! trinity sure to me you bring; Lilac blooming perennial, and drooping star in the west, And thought of him I love.2 O powerful, western, fallen star! O shades of night! O moody, tearful night! O great star disappear’d! O the black murk that hides the star! O cruel hands that hold me powerless! O helpless soul of me! O harsh surrounding cloud, that will not free my soul!3 In the door-yard fronting an old farm-house, near the white-wash’d palings, Stands the lilac bush, tall-growing, with heart-shaped leaves of rich green, With many a pointed blossom, rising, delicate, with the perfume strong I love, With every leaf a miracle......and from this bush in the door-yard, With delicate-color’d blossoms, and heart-shaped leaves of rich green, A sprig, with its flower, I break.4 In the swamp, in secluded recesses, A shy and hidden bird is warbling a song. Solitary, the thrush, The hermit, withdrawn to himself, avoiding the settlements, Sings by himself a song. Song of the bleeding throat! Death’s outlet song of life—(for well, dear brother, I know If thou wast not gifted to sing, thou would’st surely die.)5 Over the breast of the spring, the land, amid cities, Amid lanes, and through old woods, (where lately the violets peep’d from the ground, spotting the gray debris;) Amid the grass in the fields each side of the lanes—passing the endless grass; Passing the yellow-spear’d wheat, every grain from its shroud in the dark-brown fields uprising; Passing the apple-tree blows of white and pink in the orchards; Carrying a corpse to where it shall rest in the grave, Night and day journeys a coffin.6 Coffin that passes through lanes and streets, Through day and night, with the great cloud darkening the land, With the pomp of the inloop’d flags, with the cities draped in black, With the show of the States themselves, as of crape-veil’d women, standing, With processions long and winding, and the flambeaus of the night, With the countless torches lit—with the silent sea of faces, and the unbared heads, With the waiting depot, the arriving coffin, and the sombre faces, With dirges through the night, with the thousand voices rising strong and solemn; With all the mournful voices of the dirges, pour’d around the coffin, The dim-lit churches and the shuddering organs—Where amid these you journey, With the tolling, tolling bells’ perpetual clang; Here! coffin that slowly passes, I give you my sprig of lilac.7 (Nor for you, for one, alone; Blossoms and branches green to coffins all I bring: For fresh as the morning—thus would I carol a song for you, O sane and sacred death. All over bouquets of roses, O death! I cover you over with roses and early lilies; But mostly and now the lilac that blooms the first, Copious, I break, I break the sprigs from the bushes; With loaded arms I come, pouring for you, For you, and the coffins all of you, O death.)8 O western orb, sailing the heaven! Now I know what you must have meant, as a month since we walk’d, As we walk’d up and down in the dark blue so mystic, As we walk’d in silence the transparent shadowy night, As I saw you had something to tell, as you bent to me night after night, As you droop’d from the sky low down, as if to my side, (while the other stars all look’d on;) As we wander’d together the solemn night, (for something, I know not what, kept me from sleep;) As the night advanced, and I saw on the rim of the west, ere you went, how full you were of woe; As I stood on the rising ground in the breeze, in the cold transparent night, As I watch’d where you pass’d and was lost in the netherward black of the night, As my soul, in its trouble, dissatisfied, sank, as where you, sad orb, Concluded, dropt in the night, and was gone.9 Sing on, there in the swamp! O singer bashful and tender! I hear your notes—I hear your call; I hear—I come presently—I understand you; But a moment I linger—for the lustrous star has detain’d me; The star, my departing comrade, holds and detains me.10 O how shall I warble myself for the dead one there I loved? And how shall I deck my song for the large sweet soul that has gone? And what shall my perfume be, for the grave of him I love? Sea-winds, blown from east and west, Blown from the eastern sea, and blown from the western sea, till there on the prairies meeting: These, and with these, and the breath of my chant, I perfume the grave of him I love.11 O what shall I hang on the chamber walls? And what shall the pictures be that I hang on the walls, To adorn the burial-house of him I love? Pictures of growing spring, and farms, and homes, With the Fourth-month eve at sundown, and the gray smoke lucid and bright, With floods of the yellow gold of the gorgeous, indolent, sinking sun, burning, expanding the air; With the fresh sweet herbage under foot, and the pale green leaves of the trees prolific; In the distance the flowing glaze, the breast of the river, with a wind-dapple here and there; With ranging hills on the banks, with many a line against the sky, and shadows; And the city at hand, with dwellings so dense, and stacks of chimneys, And all the scenes of life, and the workshops, and the workmen homeward returning.12 Lo! body and soul! this land! Mighty Manhattan, with spires, and the sparkling and hurrying tides, and the ships; The varied and ample land—the South and the North in the light—Ohio’s shores, and flashing Missouri, And ever the far-spreading prairies, cover’d with grass and corn. Lo! the most excellent sun, so calm and haughty; The violet and purple morn, with just-felt breezes; The gentle, soft-born, measureless light; The miracle, spreading, bathing all—the fulfill’d noon; The coming eve, delicious—the welcome night, and the stars, Over my cities shining all, enveloping man and land.13 Sing on! sing on, you gray-brown bird! Sing from the swamps, the recesses—pour your chant from the bushes; Limitless out of the dusk, out of the cedars and pines. Sing on, dearest brother—warble your reedy song; Loud human song, with voice of uttermost woe. O liquid, and free, and tender! O wild and loose to my soul! O wondrous singer! You only I hear......yet the star holds me, (but will soon depart;) Yet the lilac, with mastering odor, holds me.14 Now while I sat in the day, and look’d forth, In the close of the day, with its light, and the fields of spring, and the farmer preparing his crops, In the large unconscious scenery of my land, with its lakes and forests, In the heavenly aerial beauty, (after the perturb’d winds, and the storms;) Under the arching heavens of the afternoon swift passing, and the voices of children and women, The many-moving sea-tides,—and I saw the ships how they sail’d, And the summer approaching with richness, and the fields all busy with labor, And the infinite separate houses, how they all went on, each with its meals and minutia of daily usages; And the streets, how their throbbings throbb’d, and the cities pent—lo! then and there, Falling upon them all, and among them all, enveloping me with the rest, Appear’d the cloud, appear’d the long black trail; And I knew Death, its thought, and the sacred knowledge of death.15 Then with the knowledge of death as walking one side of me, And the thought of death close-walking the other side of me, And I in the middle, as with companions, and as holding the hands of companions, I fled forth to the hiding receiving night, that talks not, Down to the shores of the water, the path by the swamp in the dimness, To the solemn shadowy cedars, and ghostly pines so still. And the singer so shy to the rest receiv’d me; The gray-brown bird I know, receiv’d us comrades three; And he sang what seem’d the carol of death, and a verse for him I love. From deep secluded recesses, From the fragrant cedars, and the ghostly pines so still, Came the carol of the bird. And the charm of the carol rapt me, As I held, as if by their hands, my comrades in the night; And the voice of my spirit tallied the song of the bird. DEATH CAROL. 16 Come, lovely and soothing Death, Undulate round the world, serenely arriving, arriving, In the day, in the night, to all, to each, Sooner or later, delicate Death. Prais’d be the fathomless universe, For life and joy, and for objects and knowledge curious; And for love, sweet love—But praise! praise! praise! For the sure-enwinding arms of cool-enfolding Death. Dark Mother, always gliding near, with soft feet, Have none chanted for thee a chant of fullest welcome? Then I chant it for thee—I glorify thee above all; I bring thee a song that when thou must indeed come, come unfalteringly. Approach, strong Deliveress! When it is so—when thou hast taken them, I joyously sing the dead, Lost in the loving, floating ocean of thee, Laved in the flood of thy bliss, O Death. From me to thee glad serenades, Dances for thee I propose, saluting thee—adornments and feastings for thee; And the sights of the open landscape, and the high-spread sky, are fitting, And life and the fields, and the huge and thoughtful night. The night, in silence, under many a star; The ocean shore, and the husky whispering wave, whose voice I know; And the soul turning to thee, O vast and well-veil’d Death, And the body gratefully nestling close to thee. Over the tree-tops I float thee a song! Over the rising and sinking waves—over the myriad fields, and the prairies wide; Over the dense-pack’d cities all, and the teeming wharves and ways, I float this carol with joy, with joy to thee, O Death!17 To the tally of my soul, Loud and strong kept up the gray-brown bird, With pure, deliberate notes, spreading, filling the night. Loud in the pines and cedars dim, Clear in the freshness moist, and the swamp-perfume; And I with my comrades there in the night. While my sight that was bound in my eyes unclosed, As to long panoramas of visions.18 I saw askant the armies; And I saw, as in noiseless dreams, hundreds of battle-flags; Borne through the smoke of the battles, and pierc’d with missiles, I saw them, And carried hither and yon through the smoke, and torn and bloody; And at last but a few shreds left on the staffs, (and all in silence,) And the staffs all splinter’d and broken. I saw battle-corpses, myriads of them, And the white skeletons of young men—I saw them; I saw the debris and debris of all the dead soldiers of the war; But I saw they were not as was thought; They themselves were fully at rest—they suffer’d not; The living remain’d and suffer’d—the mother suffer’d, And the wife and the child, and the musing comrade suffer’d, And the armies that remain’d suffer’d.19 Passing the visions, passing the night; Passing, unloosing the hold of my comrades’ hands; Passing the song of the hermit bird, and the tallying song of my soul, (Victorious song, death’s outlet song, yet varying, ever-altering song, As low and wailing, yet clear the notes, rising and falling, flooding the night, Sadly sinking and fainting, as warning and warning, and yet again bursting with joy, Covering the earth, and filling the spread of the heaven, As that powerful psalm in the night I heard from recesses,) Passing, I leave thee, lilac with heart-shaped leaves; I leave thee there in the door-yard, blooming, returning with spring, I cease from my song for thee; From my gaze on thee in the west, fronting the west, communing with thee, O comrade lustrous, with silver face in the night.20 Yet each I keep, and all, retrievements out of the night; The song, the wondrous chant of the gray-brown bird, And the tallying chant, the echo arous’d in my soul, With the lustrous and drooping star, with the countenance full of woe, With the lilac tall, and its blossoms of mastering odor; With the holders holding my hand, nearing the call of the bird, Comrades mine, and I in the midst, and their memory ever I keep—for the dead I loved so well; For the sweetest, wisest soul of all my days and lands...and this for his dear sake; Lilac and star and bird, twined with the chant of my soul, There in the fragrant pines, and the cedars dusk and dim.First aired: 23 August 2008 For hundreds more poetry readings, visit the Classic Poetry Aloud index. Reading © Classic Poetry Aloud 2008

21mins

12 Sep 2008

Rank #13

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333. To Celia by Ben Johnson

B Johnson read by Classic Poetry Aloud: http://www.classicpoetryaloud.com/ Giving voice to classic poetry. --------------------------------------------------- To Celia by Ben Johnson (1572 – 1637) Drink to me only with thine eyes, And I will pledge with mine; Or leave a kiss but in the cup And I'll not look for wine. The thirst that from the soul doth rise Doth ask a drink divine; But might I of Jove's nectar sup, I would not change for thine. I sent thee late a rosy wreath, Not so much honouring thee As giving it a hope that there It could not wither'd be. But thou thereon didst only breathe And sent'st it back to me; Since when it grows, and smells, I swear, Not of itself but thee! First aired: 08 October, 2007 For hundreds more poetry readings, visit the Classic Poetry Aloud index.Reading © Classic Poetry Aloud 2008

1min

2 Sep 2008

Rank #14

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342. A Psalm of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

HW Longfellow read by Classic Poetry Aloud:http://www.classicpoetryaloud.com/Giving voice to the poetry of the past.---------------------------------------------------A Psalm of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 – 1882)Tell me not, in mournful numbers, Life is but an empty dream!— For the soul is dead that slumbers, And things are not what they seem. Life is real! Life is earnest! And the grave is not its goal; Dust thou art, to dust returnest, Was not spoken of the soul. Not enjoyment, and not sorrow, Is our destined end or way; But to act, that each to-morrow Find us farther than to-day. Art is long, and Time is fleeting, And our hearts, though stout and brave, Still, like muffled drums, are beating Funeral marches to the grave. In the world's broad field of battle, In the bivouac of Life, Be not like dumb, driven cattle! Be a hero in the strife! Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant! Let the dead Past bury its dead! Act,—act in the living Present! Heart within, and God o'erhead! Lives of great men all remind us We can make our lives sublime, And, departing, leave behind us Footprints on the sands of time; Footprints, that perhaps another, Sailing o'er life's solemn main, A forlorn and shipwrecked brother, Seeing, shall take heart again. Let us, then, be up and doing, With a heart for any fate; Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait. First aired: 18 October 2007For hundreds more poetry readings, visit the Classic Poetry Aloud index.Reading © Classic Poetry Aloud 2008

2mins

21 Sep 2008

Rank #15

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614. Alone by Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe read by Classic Poetry Aloudwww.classicpoetryaloud.comTwitter: @classicpoetryFacebook: www.facebook.com/poetryaloudGiving voice to the poetry of the past.---------------------------------------------------Aloneby Edgar Allan Poe(1809 – 1849) From childhood's hour I have not beenAs others were; I have not seenAs others saw; I could not bringMy passions from a common spring.From the same source I have not takenMy sorrow; I could not awakenMy heart to joy at the same tone;And all I loved, I loved alone.Then- in my childhood, in the dawnOf a most stormy life- was drawnFrom every depth of good and illThe mystery which binds me still:From the torrent, or the fountain,From the red cliff of the mountain,From the sun that round me rolledIn its autumn tint of gold,From the lightning in the skyAs it passed me flying by,From the thunder and the storm,And the cloud that took the form(When the rest of Heaven was blue)Of a demon in my view. Reading © Classic Poetry Aloud, 2007.

1min

12 Dec 2013

Rank #16

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469. The Dilettante by Paul Laurence Dunbar

PL Dunbar read by Classic Poetry Aloud:http://www.classicpoetryaloud.com/Giving voice to the poetry of the past.---------------------------------------The Dilettante: A Modern Typeby Paul Lawrence Dunbar (1872 – 1906)He scribbles some in prose and verse, And now and then he prints it; He paints a little,--gathers some Of Nature's gold and mints it.He plays a little, sings a song, Acts tragic roles or funny; He does, because his love is strong, But not, oh, not for money!He studies almost everything From social art to science; A thirsty mind, a flowing spring, Demand and swift compliance.He looms above the sordid crowd, At least through friendly lenses; While his mama looks pleased and proud, And kindly pays expenses.First aired: 26 April 2009For hundreds more poetry readings, visit the Classic Poetry Aloud index.Reading © Classic Poetry Aloud 2009

1min

26 Apr 2009

Rank #17

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357. Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe

EA Poe read by Classic Poetry Aloud:http://www.classicpoetryaloud.com/Giving voice to the poetry of the past.---------------------------------------------------Annabel Leeby Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849)It was many and many a year ago, In a kingdom by the sea, That a maiden there lived whom you may know By the name of Annabel Lee; And this maiden she lived with no other thought Than to love and be loved by me. I was a child and she was a child, In this kingdom by the sea, But we loved with a love that was more than love, I and my Annabel Lee; With a love that the wingèd seraphs of heaven Coveted her and me. And this was the reason that, long ago, In this kingdom by the sea, A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling My beautiful Annabel Lee; So that her highborn kinsmen came And bore her away from me, To shut her up in a sepulchre In this kingdom by the sea. The angels, not half so happy in heaven, Went envying her and me; Yes! that was the reason (as all men know, In this kingdom by the sea) That the wind came out of the cloud by night, Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee. But our love it was stronger by far than the love Of those who were older than we, Of many far wiser than we; And neither the angels in heaven above, Nor the demons down under the sea, Can ever dissever my soul from the soul Of the beautiful Annabel Lee: For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams Of the beautiful Annabel Lee; And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes Of the beautiful Annabel Lee; And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride, In her sepulchre there by the sea, In her tomb by the sounding sea. First aired: 16 November 2007For hundreds more poetry readings, visit the Classic Poetry Aloud index.Reading © Classic Poetry Aloud 2008

2mins

20 Oct 2008

Rank #18

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454. A Dream within a Dream by Edgar Allan Poe

EA Poe read by Classic Poetry Aloud:http://www.classicpoetryaloud.com/Giving voice to the poetry of the past.--------------------------------------------- A Dream within a Dreamby Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849)Take this kiss upon the brow! And, in parting from you now, ThIs much let me avow – You are not wrong, who deem That my days have been a dream: Yet if hope has flown away In a night, or in a day, In a vision or in none, Is it therefore the less gone?All that we see or seem Is but a dream within a dream. I stand amid the roarOf a surf-tormented shore,And I hold within my handGrains of the golden sand—How few! yet how they creepThrough my fingers to the deepWhile I weep--while I weep!O God! can I not graspThem with a tighter clasp?O God! can I not save One from the pitiless wave? Is all that we see or seem But a dream within a dream?First aired: 3 April 2009For hundreds more poetry readings, visit the Classic Poetry Aloud index.Reading © Classic Poetry Aloud 2009

1min

3 Apr 2009

Rank #19

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503. I am Lonely by George Eliot

G Eliot read by Classic Poetry Aloud:http://www.classicpoetryaloud.com/Giving voice to the poetry of the past.---------------------------------------I am Lonelyby George Eliot (1819 – 1880)From "The Spanish Gypsy"The world is great: the birds all fly from me,The stars are golden fruit upon a treeAll out of reach: my little sister went,And I am lonely.The world is great: I tried to mount the hillAbove the pines, where the light lies so still,But it rose higher: little Lisa wentAnd I am lonely.The world is great: the wind comes rushing by.I wonder where it comes from; sea birds cryAnd hurt my heart: my little sister went,And I am lonely.The world is great: the people laugh and talk,And make loud holiday: how fast they walk!I'm lame, they push me: little Lisa went,And I am lonely.First aired: 19 May 2008For hundreds more poetry readings, visit the Classic Poetry Aloud index.Reading © Classic Poetry Aloud 2009

1min

14 Aug 2009

Rank #20