In this installment, Jonah Ruskin reads “Ah! Sun-flower” by William Blake. Jonah Raskin is the author of eight books, including most recently American Scream: Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ and the Making of the Beat Generation, which The San Francisco Chronicle named one of the best 100 books of 2004. The chair of the Communication Studies Department at Sonoma State University (SSU) and the book critic for the Santa Rosa, California, Press Democrat, he has published three poetry chapbooks, “Jonah Raskin’s Greatest Hits,” “More Poems, Better Poems,” and “Bone Love.” At SSU, he teaches media law and journalism and co-ordinates the student internship program.
William Blake, “Ah! Sun-flower”
Ah Sun-flower! weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the Sun:
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller’s journey is done;
Where the Youth pined away with desire,
And the pale Virgin shrouded in snow
Arise from their graves and aspire
Where my Sun-flower wishes to go.
In this installment, Alan Halsey reads “Song in the Air” by Thomas Lovell Beddoes. Halsey’s books include The Text of Shelley’s Death (1995), Wittgenstein’s Devil: Selected Writing 1978-98 (2000) and Marginalien (2005). His edition of the later text of Beddoes’s Death’s Jest-Book was published by West House Books in 2003, and his several essays on Beddoes’s life & work have appeared in various journals & pamphlets. Learn more about him here.
Thomas Lovell Beddoes, “Song in the Air”
The moon doth mock and make me crazy,
And midnight tolls her horrid claim
On ghostly homage. Fie, for shame!
Deaths, to stand painted there so lazy.
There’s nothing but the stars about us,
And they’re no tell-tales, but shine quiet:
Come out, and hold a midnight riot,
Where no mortal fool dare flout us:
And, as we rattle in the moonlight pale;
Wanderers shall think ’tis the nightingale.
In this installment, Ken Edwards reads “London” by William Blake. Edwards’ books include the poetry collections Intensive Care (1986), Good Science (1992), 3600 Weekends (1993), eight + six (2003), and the novel Futures (1998). He has been editor/publisher of Reality Street Editions since 1993. He is active in music as well as writing: his text for a piece by John Tilbury for piano, voice and sampled sounds, There’s something in there…, was premiered in 2003, and his music for Fanny Howe’s Spiral was first performed in Brighton and London in 2004. He is writing a new novel. He lives in Hastings on the south coast of England and works as an editor for the Royal College of Nursing in London.
William Blake’s “London”
I wander thro’ each charter’d street,
Near where the charter’d Thames does flow,
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
In every cry of every Man,
In every Infant’s cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forg’d manacles I hear.
How the Chimney-sweeper’s cry
Every black’ning Church appalls;
And the hapless Soldier’s sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls.
But most thro’ midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlot’s curse
Blasts the new born Infant’s tear,
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.