Readings of poems from Old English to the present.
Hafez 'What memories' (trans Dick Davis)
Hafez, 1315 (?) -1398/90)
We live in a great age of translation, and there's no excuse for not exploring poetries other than English. Hafez is one of the world’s great poets, in one of the history’s great literatures, and Dick Davis is one of the great translators.
Ironically i first came across both of them in an essay Davis wrote called ‘On not Translating Hafez’.
This poem is taken from Davis’ ‘Faces of Love: Hafez and the poets of Shiraz’ Mage Publishers 2012/2019
from Prudentius 'Hamartigenia'. on Free Will
‘Prudentius’, Aurelius Prudentius Clemens. (348-405?)
Originally written in Latin, this poem was part of a contemporary theological argument. This sounds dour, but it rocks along in Martha M. Malamud’s translation.
The section I’ve read here is about free will. Prudentius argues that when God gave man power over the beasts, he also gave him power over himself. The first five or so lines I’ve read here present the point of view that Prudentius is arguing against. Therefore good and evil are choices we make. A man with no choice, who is forced to do good, cannot be good.
The first five or so lines I’ve read here present the point of view that Prudentius is arguing against.
Strikingly, for all the misogyny of the poem, when Prudentius comes to relate the genesis story of Adam and Eve, although he doesn’t name Eve, he doesn’t blame her either. Adam had a choice, and he made it. He choose to do what he knew was wrong. Therefore he, and no one else, was to blame for his actions.
Given the medieval habit of blaming Eve for ‘The Fall’ it’s a striking departure from the normal way the story is presented. Malamud claims that Milton would have known this poem, and and she points out, it’s fascinating to read the whole poem with Paradise Lost in mind.
This reading is taken from ‘The Origin of Sin, An English Translation of the Hamartigenia’, by Martha. A Malamud. (2011) lines 879-957.
Jeremy Hooker's 'Novelty'
Jeremy Hooker (born 1941)
I don't often read two consecutive poems from the same poet, but I wanted to hear this one.
It's taken from Hooker's 'Selected Poems (1965-2018)' published 2020 by Shearsman books
Jeremy Hooker's 'Gull on a Post'
Jeremy Hooker (Born 1941)
Shearsman published Hooker’s Selected poems (1965-2018) in 2020. It’s an impressive body of work, through provoking, moving, and very enjoyable to read.
I like the way this poem uses a single, familiar (If you live near the coast) image to explore a complex idea, and resists the temptation to shut down the exploration with a neat conclusion. I also like the way the poem never loses sight of the physical world. The gull and the post are always a gull and a post, carefully observed, rather than a convenient symbol for the poet’s musings. He’s right about Gulls’ eyes.
Lewis Carroll's 'You are old Father William'
Lewis Carroll (1832-1898)
Like many things in Alice in Wonderland, this was a parody, but the target has long been consigned to the footnotes. It is what it is: Carroll’s control of rhyme and rhythm seems effortless. It’s certainly enviable. And the poem is memorably funny.
I’m probably not the only one to remember hearing ‘I have answered three questions and that is enough’ or ‘be off and don’t give yourself airs’ quoted by an exasperated adult.
William Wordsworth's 'The World is too much with us'.
William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
‘Getting and spending we lay waste our powers’. Says it all really.
This reading was a request. Which reminds me to point out that if you have a poem you’d like to hear read on the Podcast you can send your request via the contact form on www.liamguilar.com or to my author page on facebook.
Some poems don’t work well read aloud, and some just don’t work when I read them. I can’t promise there will be no parrots, dogs or traffic in the background, but i’ll see what I can do.
On the website you’ll also find an index of all 159 poems that have been read so far.