If all the world and love were young,
And truth in every Shepherd’s tongue,
These pretty pleasures might me move,
To live with thee, and be thy love.
The Norton Anthology of Poetry has been in existence for almost fifty years, and during that time the way its audience experiences poetry has changed dramatically. Readers now expect to use their ears as much as their eyes when they encounter poetry; hearing poems read out loud deepens both readers’ enjoyment and their understanding.
For the new, sixth edition of the anthology, Norton has teamed up with The Poetry Archive, this popular UK-based website dedicated to recording poets reading their own work. Together, they have gathered existing Archive recordings of selections that appear in the anthology, and added new recordings of older poems, to create a rich acoustic line-up of poems from across the anthology.
The result does more than simply confirm the anthology’s reputation as an invaluable teaching tool for instructors, and a book that students want to keep long after their courses end. Listening to the poems being read adds a fascinating human element to the experience, prompting questions such as What do the poets sound like? What are their accents? How quickly or slowly do they read? What do their pauses signify? At the same time, dipping into this gathering of recordings confirms by means of new technology an ancient truth: that we understand and appreciate poetry as much by paying attention to sounds as we do by comprehending sense. This is what Robert Frost meant when he said, "The ear does it. The ear is the only true writer and the only true reader."
- Sir Andrew Motion, Poetry Archive Co-Founder.
The Poetry Archive website contains recordings of over 150 poems that appear in The Norton Anthology of Poetry. A sampling of those poems is provided below. To explore the full list, click here.
Further information on The Norton Anthology of Poetry, including a full table of contents and ordering information, is available here.
Five years have past; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters! and again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a soft inland murmur.—Once again