There are few things that can make me just sit still, or instantly transport me to a different time and place: the cry of a plaintive violin, a lingering sunset, the warm nuzzle of Pacific waters, music that gives heartache such enviable beauty. And poetry—the kind that cuts right through, needing no excess of words to drown its sentiment, letting you fill the necessary spaces with your own voice.
When a poem is so masterfully written, hearing it read aloud is often a hit-or-miss affair. When it misses, it’s almost painful to hear. But when it hits, oh, what new life it gives to those familiar words.
Tracks like these that make me glad for the gift of hearing. I think of how certain sounds can arouse the tenderest of emotions. How a slight dip in tone can so lovingly caress a consonant, or embrace a vowel. And then I am as easily lost, swimming in the melodic hum of voices as surely as I am afloat in the powerful imagery the poet paints.
These make me feel sad and joyful at the same time, grateful to be human, that we can be so moved by the simple chemistry of words strung together. The effect is consistent and immediate, no matter how many times I’ve listened to these same words before.
And because it’s cold and gray outside, and I’m sitting at my desk right now thinking that it must be cold and gray everywhere else in the world, I thought I’d share some of them with you.
Nothing goes better, I think, with gray.
Pablo Neruda: Tonight I Can Write (read by Andy Garcia)
Pablo Neruda: I Like For You To Be Still (read by Glenn Close)
William Shakespeare: Sonnet XXIX (read by Ron Perlman)
Matthew Arnold: Longing (read by Ron Perlman)
Rainer Maria Rilke: Love Song (read by Ron Perlman)