Here are some questions frequently asked of Classic Poetry Aloud:
What’s it all about?
Classic Poetry Aloud exists to add another dimension to the enjoyment of poetry: listening.
Why is listening important?
One of the aims of Classic Poetry Aloud is to make poetry more accessible. Poems are almost always written to be spoken. Listening to a poem being interpreted in this way can help the listener engage with it emotionally. Once the emotions are engaged, understanding begins, along with the willingness to find out more (what does this word mean? What lies underneath this idea?).
What poems do you read?
Anything in the English language that is out of copyright.
What’s so important about copyright?
We respect copyright at Classic Poetry Aloud. The newspaper writer, the computer programmer and the advertiser all write, and all expect to be paid for their efforts. Poets operate in a far less commercial environment, but their labour is equally worthy of the hire. To read a poet’s work when it is still in copyright is to take it without paying for it.
Who is Classic Poetry Aloud for?
Anyone who loves poetry. We have listeners on every continent.
Is Classic Poetry Aloud suitable for students of the English language?
Many non-native students of English find that listening to poetry gives an added dimension to their understanding and appreciation of the language, just as many English speakers enjoy experiencing poetry in foreign languages.
Is Classic Poetry Aloud suitable for students of English literature?
A number of students have commented that listening to a poem adds greatly to their understanding of it.
Why the pebbles?
The background to www.classicpoetryaloud.com is an image of pebbles. This is inspired by this line in ‘Morte d’Arthur’ by Alfred, Lord Tennyson:
Counting the dewy pebbles, fix’d in thought
We like to imagine that readers and listeners become lost in thought in poetry, just as when you look, spellbound, at a fire, or sunset, or at pebbles.
On the same lines, the great British scientist Sir Isaac Newton in a memoir late in life, said this of himself:
I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.
– and that is exactly how we feel at the shore of the great sea of literature which we have all about us.
Who is the photograph of?
It is a picture of a bust of Homer, the Greek poet, in the British Museum. The photograph has kindly been released into the public domain by the author. Did Homer really exist, or are works attributed to him really a gathering together of poems of oral tradition? The latter seems more likely, but we still like to see him as the epitome of the wandering poet, declaiming his works from town to town.
Mind you, even then, most places would prefer to be the birth place of a dead poet than to pay a live one:
Seven wealthy towns contend for Homer dead,
Through which the living Homer begged his bread.