Medieval epic poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight:
Simon Armitage reads selections from his translation of the medieval epic, The Death of King Arthur:
One of the anonymous folk songs collected in Francis James Child’s “The English and Scottish Popular Ballads”:
Modernized lyrics to the above song:
BONNIE GEORGE CAMPBELL
High upon Highlands,
and low upon Tay.*
Bonnie George Campbell
rode out on a day.
He saddled, he bridled,
and gallant rode he,
and home came his good horse,
but never came he.
Out came his mother dear,
grieving full sore,
and out came his bonnie bride,
rending her hair.
“The meadow lies green,
the corn is unshorn,
but Bonnie George Campbell
will never return.”
Saddled and bridled
and booted rode he,
a plume in his helmet,
a sword at his knee.
But bare came his saddle
all bloody to see.
Oh, home came his good horse,
but never came he.
*Tay = river in Scotland.
“Westron Wynde”, anonymous song from c1350 sung by Maddy Prior and Tim Hart:
Tom O’Bedlam reads Thomas Wyatt’s “They Flee From Me That Sometime Did Me Seek”:
Anonymous group performs Ralph Vaughan Williams’ music to George Herbert’s poem “The Call”:
Methought I Saw My Late Espoused Saint
METHOUGHT I saw my late espoused Saint
Brought to me like Alcestus from the grave,
Who Jove’s great Son to her glad Husband gave,
Rescu’d from death by force though pale and faint.
Mine as whom washt from spot of child-bed taint
Purification in the old Law did save,
And such as yet once more I trust to have
Full sight of her in Heav’n without restraint,
Came vested all in white, pure as her mind:
Her face was veil’d, yet to my fancied sight
Love, sweetness, goodness in her person shin’d
So clear, as in no face with more delight.
But O as to embrace me she enclin’d
I wak’d, she fled, and day brought back my night.
by John Milton
On His Blindness
WHEN I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,-
Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?
I fondly ask:-But Patience, to prevent
That murmer, soon replies; God doth not need
Either man’s work, or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best: His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:-
They also serve who only stand and wait.
by John Milton
Benedict Cumberbatch reads Shakespeare’s “The Seven Ages of Man” (All the World’s a Stage) and other poems:
Alan Rickman reads Sonnet 130:
Text to the above poem:
My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
Richard Burton reads John Donne’s “Song: Go and Catch a Falling Star:
Simon Schama documentary on John Donne:
A Satirical Elegy on the Death of a Late Famous General
His Grace! impossible! what dead!
Of old age too, and in his bed!
And could that mighty warrior fall?
And so inglorious, after all!
Well, since he’s gone, no matter how,
The last loud trump must wake him now:
And, trust me, as the noise grows stronger,
He’d wish to sleep a little longer.
And could he be indeed so old
As by the newspapers we’re told?
Threescore, I think, is pretty high;
’Twas time in conscience he should die
This world he cumbered long enough;
He burnt his candle to the snuff;
And that’s the reason, some folks think,
He left behind so great a stink.
Behold his funeral appears,
Nor widow’s sighs, nor orphan’s tears,
Wont at such times each heart to pierce,
Attend the progress of his hearse.
But what of that, his friends may say,
He had those honours in his day.
True to his profit and his pride,
He made them weep before he died.
Come hither, all ye empty things,
Ye bubbles raised by breath of kings;
Who float upon the tide of state,
Come hither, and behold your fate.
Let pride be taught by this rebuke,
How very mean a thing’s a Duke;
From all his ill-got honours flung,
Turned to that dirt from whence he sprung.
The Day of Judgment
|By Jonathan Swift (1667–1745)|
Christopher Smart’s “For I Will Consider My Cat, Jeoffrey”:
For text to the above poem click here.