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Anne Shaw reads "The Tyger" by William Blake

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In this installment, Anne Shaw reads “The Tyger” by William Blake. Shaw is the author of Undertow (2007), winner of the Lexi Rudnitsky Poetry Prize from Persea Books. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in journals including New American Writing, Hayden's Ferry Review, Gulf Coast, New Ohio Review, and Subtropics. A recipient of a Gertrude Stein Award from Green Integer Press and a finalist for the Colorado Poetry Prize, she is assistant professor of English at Franklin Pierce University.

William Blake, "The Tyger"

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night.
What Immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare sieze the fire?

And what shoulder, and what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? and what dread feet?

What the hammer? What the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the lamb make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright,
In the forests of the night.
What Immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

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Andrew Kozma reads Part IV of "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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In this installment, Andrew Kozma reads Part IV of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Kozma received his M.F.A. from the University of Florida and his Ph.D. in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Houston. He was born in Tucson, Arizona, but only lived there nine months, so your guess is as good as his as to where he’s from. His poems have been published in AGNI On-line, Hunger Mountain, Dislocate, Forklift, Ohio, and Third Coast and he has published non-fiction in The Iowa Review. His first book of poems, City of Regret, was chosen by Richard Jackson for the Zone 3 First Book Award and was released in 2007.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," Part IV

“I fear thee, ancient Mariner!
I fear thy skinny hand!
And thou art long, and lank, and brown,
As is the ribbed sea-sand.

I fear thee and thy glittering eye,
And thy skinny hand, so brown.”—
Fear not, fear not, thou Wedding Guest!
This body dropped not down.

Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide wide sea!
And never a saint took pity on
My soul in agony.

The many men, so beautiful!
And they all dead did lie:
And a thousand thousand slimy things
Lived on; and so did I.

I looked upon the rotting sea,
And drew my eyes away;
I looked upon the rotting deck,
And there the dead men lay.

I looked to heaven, and tried to pray;
But or ever a prayer had gushed,
A wicked whisper came, and made
My heart as dry as dust.

I closed my lids, and kept them close,
And the balls like pulses beat,
For the sky and the sea, and the sea and the sky
Lay like a load on my weary eye,
And the dead were at my feet.

The cold sweat melted from their limbs,
Nor rot nor reek did they:
The look with which they looked on me
Had never passed away.

An orphan’s curse would drag to hell
A spirit from on high;
But oh! more horrible than that
Is the curse in a dead man’s eye!
Seven days, seven nights, I saw that curse,
And yet I could not die.

The moving Moon went up the sky,
And nowhere did abide:
Softly she was going up,
And a star or two beside—

Her beams bemocked the sultry main,
Like April hoar-frost spread;
But where the ship’s huge shadow lay,
The charmèd water burnt always
A still and awful red.

Beyond the shadow of the ship,
I watched the water snakes:
They moved in tracks of shining white,
And when they reared, the elfish light
Fell off in hoary flakes.

Within the shadow of the ship
I watched their rich attire:
Blue, glossy green, and velvet black,
They coiled and swam; and every track
Was a flash of golden fire.

O happy living things! no tongue
Their beauty might declare:
A spring of love gushed from my heart,
And I blessed them unaware:
Sure my kind saint took pity on me,
And I blessed them unaware.

The self-same moment I could pray;
And from my neck so free
The Albatross fell off, and sank
Like lead into the sea.

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Jennifer Kwon Dobbs reads "Sonnet LXXVII" from Elegiac Sonnets by Charlotte Turner Smith

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In this installment, Jennifer Kwon Dobbs reads "Sonnet LXXVII" from Elegiac Sonnets by Charlotte Turner Smith. Dobbs was born in Wonju-Si, South Korea. Her debut collection, Paper Pavilion, received the White Pine Press Poetry Prize and was published in 2007. Currently, she is assistant professor of creative writing at St. Olaf College and lives in Minneapolis.

Charlotte Turner Smith, "Sonnet LXXVII" [From Elegiac Sonnets]

To the Insect of the Gossamer

SMALL, viewless aeronaut, that by the line
Of Gossamer suspended, in mid air
Float'st on a sun beam--Living atom, where
Ends thy breeze-guided voyage;--with what design,
In ether dost thou launch thy form minute,
Mocking the eye?--Alas! before the veil
Of denser clouds shall hide thee, the pursuit
Of the keen Swift may end thy fairy sail!--
Thus on the golden thread that Fancy weaves
Buoyant, as Hope's illusive flattery breathes,
The young and visionary poet leaves
Life's dull realities, while sevenfold wreaths
Of rainbow-light around his head revolve.
Ah! soon at Sorrow's touch the radiant dreams dissolve!

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Jennifer Kwon Dobbs reads "Sonnet LXX" from Elegiac Sonnets by Charlotte Turner Smith

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In this installment, Jennifer Kwon Dobbs reads "Sonnet LXX" from Elegiac Sonnets by Charlotte Turner Smith. Dobbs was born in Wonju-Si, South Korea. Her debut collection, Paper Pavilion, received the White Pine Press Poetry Prize and was published in 2007. Currently, she is assistant professor of creative writing at St. Olaf College and lives in Minneapolis.

Charlotte Turner Smith, "Sonnet LXX" [From Elegiac Sonnets]

On being cautioned against walking over a headland
overlooking the sea, because it was frequented by a
Lunatic.

IS there a solitary wretch who hies
To the tall cliff, with starting pace or slow,
And, measuring, views with wild and hollow eyes
Its distance from the waves that chide below;
Who, as the sea-born gale with frequent sighs
Chills his cold bed upon the mountain turf,
With hoarse, half utter'd lamentation, lies
Murmuring responses to the dashing surf?
In moody sadness, on the giddy brink,
I see him more with envy than with fear;
He has no nice felicities that shrink
From giant horrors; wildly wandering here,
He seems (uncursed with reason) not to know
The depth or the duration of his woe.

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Elizabeth Volpe reads "The Human Abstract" by William Blake

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In this installment, Elizabeth Volpe reads “The Human Abstract” by William Blake. A 2001 and 2004 Pushcart Prize nominee, Volpe lives in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Her poems have appeared in many journals, including: Atlanta Review, Crab Orchard Review, Connecticut Review, River Styx, Cave Wall, and roger. She won The Briarcliff Review 2004 Poetry Contest, the 2006 Metro Detroit Writers Contest, and the 2008 Juniper Prize from Alligator Juniper. Her chapbook won the 2007 Robert Watson Poetry Award from Spring Garden Press/The Greensboro Review, and she was nominated for 2008 Best New Poets.

William Blake, “The Human Abstract”

Pity would be no more,
If we did not make somebody Poor:
And Mercy no more could be,
If all were as happy as we;

And mutual fear brings peace;
Till the selfish loves increase.
Then Cruelty knits a snare,
And spreads his baits with care.

He sits down with holy fears,
And waters the ground with tears:
Then Humility takes its root
Underneath his foot.

Soon spreads the dismal shade
Of Mystery over his head;
And the Catterpiller and Fly.
Feed on the Mystery.

And it bears the fruit of Deceit.
Ruddy and sweet to eat;
And the Raven his nest has made
In its thickest shade.

The Gods of the earth and sea,
Sought thro' Nature to find this Tree
But their search was all in vain;
There grows one in the Human Brain

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Joshua Kryah reads "Where She Told Her Love" by John Clare

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In this installment, Joshua Kryah reads “Where She Told Her Love” by John Clare. Kryah was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he received a Ph.D. from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he was a Schaeffer Fellow in poetry. His first collection of poems, Glean (2007), won the 2005 Nightboat Books Poetry Prize judged by Donald Revell. His poems have appeared in Denver Quarterly, FIELD, The Iowa Review, Pleiades, and Shenandoah, among other journals. He lives in Las Vegas with his wife and daughter and is a Visiting Assistant Professor in UNLV's University College. He is also poetry editor for Witness.

John Clare, “Where She Told Her Love”

I saw her crop a rose
Right early in the day,
And I went to kiss the place
Where she broke the rose away
And I saw the patten rings
Where she oer the stile had gone,
And I love all other things
Her bright eyes look upon.
If she looks upon the hedge or up the leafing tree,
The whitethorn or the brown oak are made dearer things to me.

I have a pleasant hill
Which I sit upon for hours,
Where she cropt some sprigs of thyme
And other little flowers;
And she muttered as she did it
As does beauty in a dream,
And I loved her when she hid it
On her breast, so like to cream,
Near the brown mole on her neck that to me a diamond shone
Then my eye was like to fire, and my heart was like to stone.

There is a small green place
Where cowslips early curled,
Which on Sabbath day I trace,
The dearest in the world.
A little oak spreads oer it,
And throws a shadow round,
A green sward close before it,
The greenest ever found:
There is not a woodland nigh nor is there a green grove,
Yet stood the fair maid nigh me and told me all her love.

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Ken Cormier performs "The Fly" by William Blake

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In this installment, Ken Cormier performs “The Fly” by William Blake. Cormier is the founding editor and producer of The Lumberyard, a radio magazine of poetry, prose, and music on WHUS in Storrs, CT. His first book, Balance Act, was published by Insomniac Press in 2000. He has released two CDs of original music, God Damn Doghouse and Radio-Bueno, with Elis Eil Records.

William Blake, “The Fly”

Little Fly
Thy summers play,
My thoughtless hand
Has brush'd away,

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?

For I dance
And drink & sing;
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength & breath;
And the want
Of thought is death;

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die.

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die.

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Molly Peacock reads "Nuns fret not at their convent's narrow room" by William Wordsworth

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In this installment, Molly Peacock reads “Nuns fret not at their convent’s narrow room” by William Wordsworth. Peacock is the author of six volumes of poetry, including The Second Blush, and Cornucopia: New & Selected Poems, both published by W.W. Norton and Company.

William Wordsworth, “Nuns fret not at their convent's narrow room”

NUNS fret not at their convent's narrow room;
And hermits are contented with their cells;
And students with their pensive citadels;
Maids at the wheel, the weaver at his loom,
Sit blithe and happy; bees that soar for bloom,
High as the highest Peak of Furness-fells,
Will murmur by the hour in foxglove bells:
In truth the prison, unto which we doom
Ourselves, no prison is: and hence for me,
In sundry moods, 'twas pastime to be bound
Within the Sonnet's scanty plot of ground;
Pleased if some Souls (for such there needs must be)
Who have felt the weight of too much liberty,
Should find brief solace there, as I have found.

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Erica Wright reads "Elegiac Stanzas" by William Wordsworth

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In this installment, Erica Wright reads “Elegiac Stanzas” by William Wordsworth. Wright is originally from Wartrace, Tenn, and now lives in New York City, where she teaches poetry at New York University's Continuing Studies Program. She received her M.F.A. from Columbia University. Her poems have appeared in the 2River View, Harpur Palate, Memorious, Pequod, Small Spiral Notebook, and elsewhere. She is the Poetry Editor at Guernica.

William Wordsworth, “Elegaic Stanzas”

SUGGESTED BY A PICTURE OF PEELE CASTLE, IN A STORM, PAINTED BY SIR GEORGE BEAUMONT

I WAS thy neighbour once, thou rugged Pile!
Four summer weeks I dwelt in sight of thee:
I saw thee every day; and all the while
Thy Form was sleeping on a glassy sea.

So pure the sky, so quiet was the air!
So like, so very like, was day to day!
Whene'er I looked, thy Image still was there;
It trembled, but it never passed away.

How perfect was the calm! it seemed no sleep;
No mood, which season takes away, or brings:
I could have fancied that the mighty Deep
Was even the gentlest of all gentle Things.

Ah! THEN, if mine had been the Painter's hand,
To express what then I saw; and add the gleam,
The light that never was, on sea or land,
The consecration, and the Poet's dream;

I would have planted thee, thou hoary Pile
Amid a world how different from this!
Beside a sea that could not cease to smile;
On tranquil land, beneath a sky of bliss.

Thou shouldst have seemed a treasure-house divine
Oh peaceful years; a chronicle of heaven;--
Of all the sunbeams that did ever shine
The very sweetest had to thee been given.

A Picture had it been of lasting ease,
Elysian quiet, without toil or strife;
No motion but the moving tide, a breeze,
Or merely silent Nature's breathing life.

Such, in the fond illusion of my heart,
Such Picture would I at that time have made:
And seen the soul of truth in every part,
A stedfast peace that might not be betrayed.

So once it would have been,--'tis so no more;
I have submitted to a new control:
A power is gone, which nothing can restore;
A deep distress hath humanised my Soul.

Not for a moment could I now behold
A smiling sea, and be what I have been:
The feeling of my loss will ne'er be old;
This, which I know, I speak with mind serene.

Then, Beaumont, Friend! who would have been the Friend,
If he had lived, of Him whom I deplore,
This work of thine I blame not, but commend;
This sea in anger, and that dismal shore.

O 'tis a passionate Work!--yet wise and well,
Well chosen is the spirit that is here;
That Hulk which labours in the deadly swell,
This rueful sky, this pageantry of fear!

And this huge Castle, standing here sublime,
I love to see the look with which it braves,
Cased in the unfeeling armour of old time,
The lightning, the fierce wind, and trampling waves.

Farewell, farewell the heart that lives alone,
Housed in a dream, at distance from the Kind!
Such happiness, wherever it be known,
Is to be pitied; for 'tis surely blind.

But welcome fortitude, and patient cheer,
And frequent sights of what is to be borne!
Such sights, or worse, as are before me here.--
Not without hope we suffer and we mourn.

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Douglas Kearney reads "A Poison Tree" by William Blake

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In this installment, Douglas Kearney reads “A Poison Tree” by William Blake. Kearney's first full-length collection of poetry, Fear, Some, was published by Red Hen Press in October 2006. A graduate of Cave Canem and CalArts, he lives with his wife in the Valley, right outside LA.

William Blake, “A Poison Tree”

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe;
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I water'd it in fears,
Night & morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright;
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine,

And into my garden stole
When the night had veil'd the pole:
In the morning glad I see
My foe out stretch'd beneath the tree.

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