It takes a skilled reader-aloud to do justice to poetry. Someone like Ian McKellen, or Judi Dench, or Patrick Stewart. Fortunately, these are just some of the readers you can listen to courtesy of The Poetry Archive and The London Times Online. If you're in the UK, you can even select one of the recorded poems and send it to someone--for Valentine's Day.
It's not all roses and rainbows at the Times, though. They interestingly offer Matthew Arnold's "Dover Beach" (read by Romola Garai), a poem tinged with anxiety over the coming of a modern and faithless age, in which "ignorant armies clash by night". "Ah, love, let us be true to one another," Arnold says. But it's not easy. For this new world "Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light/Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain." Would you like a chocolate strawberry with that?
And Rosamund Pike is assigned as dark a pair of love poems as anyone could choose: Rupert Brooke's "Oh! Death Will Find Me" and Christina Rossetti's "Remember"--both works trying to assert love's permanence in the face of the inevitable.
Of course that's how it is with the best love poetry. It never loses sight of the inherent folly of romance.
Take a tour through what The Poetry Archive has to offer--and go to their website, where more recordings are available. For contemporary American poetry, visit Poetry Speaks.
What's your favorite Valentine's Day poem? And is it satirical or sincere?