Category Archives: Well Versed

‘In My Craft or Sullen Art’

Dylan Thomas reads his poem “In My Craft or Sullen Art.”

In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms,
I labor by singing light
Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.

Not for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages
Nor for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of the ages,
Who pay no praise or wages
Nor heed my craft or art.

‘You Have What I Look For’

Today’s poem is a two-fer: W.S. Merwin reading his own translation of a love poem by Mexican writer Jaime Sabines.

‘About His Person’

An inventive bit of animation keyed to Simon Armitage’s “About His Person.”

‘Samurai Song’

Robert Pinsky recites his “Samurai Song.” Find out more here.

‘Her Kind’

Anne Sexton reading her poem “Her Kind.” Find out more here.

Verse things first

Knopf is once again doing its National Poetry Month e-mail service: Sign up here and get a different poem sent to your in-box each day. This year leads off with Mary Jo Salter and Frank O’Hara.

‘The Weary Blues’

Langston Hughes said his 1925 poem “The Weary Blues” was “about a working man who sang the blues all night and then went to bed and slept like a rock.” It also incorporated what Hughes said were the first blues verses he’d ever heard: “I got de weary blues/ And I can’t be satisfied./ I got de weary blues/ And can’t be satisfied./ I can’t be happy no mo’/ And I wish that I had died.” The reading posted above is by Allen Dwight Callahan, set to a performance by Cab Calloway.

Jazz great Charles Mingus was always trying out musical settings for poetry, so it’s hardly surprising that he wrote music for “The Weary Blues.” Below you’ll find the opening of a performance featuring D.C. area poet and performer Holly Bass. And yes, she certainly does things for that green dress.

‘Here, Bullet’

Brian Turner reads the title poem from his collection Here, Bullet. The Guardian has a half-hour long podcast interview with Turner if you want to know more.