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Darkling I Listen

December 23, 2013 | by

All this week, we are bringing you some of your favorite posts from 2013. Happy holidays!

Herewith, Benedict Cumberbatch reads John Keats’s “Ode to a Nightingale.”

 

14 COMMENTS

12 Comments

  1. Georgia Raysman | September 24, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    Loved hearing his reading, loved his voice and clarity and precision, but I had to close my eyes–visual distraction!

    Plus, please credit the music. Very familiar but I can’t put a name to it.

    Thanks.

  2. Michele Fitzsimmons | September 24, 2013 at 11:55 pm

    On Listening to a Reading of Ode to a Nightingale

    Romance always has that decadent edge or else it’s not romance.
    There must be a whisper of death in order to have a good time.

    It’s necessary because death is never far away. Just now a few posts back
    I saw five minutes of faces of children from Syria crying.

    Now I listen to Keats read aloud by the most melodic male voice I have ever heard. The man with the voice poses languidly in the softest woolens layered with silk surrounded by drapery.

    He sits and contemplates the beauty of his surroundings and imagines that he himself is John Keats and that he is slowly dying.

    The lives of the poets. Not an easy life in the bunch. That’s just the way it is except for Seamus Heaney and Bob Dylan and OK some do it. But most don’t say Poe and Shelly and Byron. Why would anybody say I am a poet out loud.

    Being a poet is like being a mermaid. No it’s not.

  3. Dex | September 25, 2013 at 1:22 am

    I’d rather not have the background music.

    Fitzgerald recorded this poem too. It was the first time I’d heard it read with such feeling. A quick check indicates it’s up on your youtube.

  4. Grace A. | September 25, 2013 at 6:20 am

    When you mention the recording by Scott Fitzgerald, Dex, I don’t know what you mean by “read with such feeling”…
    I have not doubt Fitzgerald felt the poem deeply in his heart, but quite honestly, his readig of Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale” -with all due respect- sounds stilted and affected, even ‘hammy’.
    For me, particularly, that makes it sound boring.
    ……..

    On the other hand, Cumberbatch’s reading of the same poem sounds and feels absolutely CLOSE and INTIMATE. It’s his amazing capability to read the poem with pure emotion but in a natural, honest and nuanced way what makes the reading of Cumberbatch really RESONATE DEEP INTO THE SOUL… to sound so beautiful and poignant as never before. Many could point out that is the extraordinarily beautiful voive of Benedict what makes it sound so special, but is not only that; it’s ‘the way’ he performs the poem, full of emotion and sincerity… along with his beautiful and expressive voice… what really makes it a class appart reading… above any other version.
    I know people, who have tell me they literally cried when first listening Cumberbatch’s Ode to a Nightingale (some dont even like poetry usually). I cried too.
    Many other interpretations of this poem -the one of Fitzgerald included- demonstrate that ‘overdramatizing’ with the voice a piece of poetry does not instil or transmit more emotion to the words, but quite the opposite.

    — Cumberbatch’s reading of ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdphtMWjies
    — Fitzgerald version of this same poem http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JeFtMBZWrjc

  5. Gracia A. | September 25, 2013 at 6:32 am

    When you mention the recording by Scott Fitzgerald, Dex, I don’t know what you mean by “read with such feeling”…
    I have not doubt Fitzgerald felt the poem deeply in his heart, but quite honestly, his readig of Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale” -with all due respect- sounds stilted and affected, even ‘hammy’.
    For me, particularly, that makes it sound boring.
    ……..

    On the other hand, Cumberbatch’s reading of the same poem sounds and feels absolutely CLOSE and INTIMATE. It’s his amazing capability to read the poem with pure emotion but in a natural, honest and nuanced way what makes the reading of Cumberbatch really RESONATE DEEP INTO THE SOUL… to sound so beautiful and poignant as never before. Many could point out that is the extraordinarily beautiful voive of Benedict what makes it sound so special, but is not only that; it’s ‘the way’ he performs the poem, full of emotion and sincerity… along with his beautiful and expressive voice… what really makes it a class appart reading… above any other version.
    I know people, who have tell me they literally cried when first listening Cumberbatch’s Ode to a Nightingale (some dont even like poetry usually). I cried too.
    Many other interpretations of this poem -the one of Fitzgerald included- demonstrate that ‘overdramatizing’ with the voice a piece of poetry does not instil or transmit more emotion to the words, but quite the opposite.

    Fitzgerald’s version is also, indeed, in YouTube.
    Anyone can copare that one, with the reading of Benedict in the video above.

  6. Gracia A. | September 25, 2013 at 6:41 am

    – Cumberbatch’s reading of ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ http((://))www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdphtMWjies
    — Fitzgerald version of this same poem http((://))www.youtube.com/watch?v=JeFtMBZWrjc

  7. Debora | September 25, 2013 at 9:17 am

    The music in the background is Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 in C-sharp minor, IV movement.
    Agreed with Dex about not having the background music around – it feels rather “disconnected” to the reading, for me.

  8. Gillian Hargreaves | September 25, 2013 at 9:25 am

    If you love the poem, hear how it was set to music by Will Todd and performed by Hertfordshire Chorus: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQyN1yrxijo

  9. Malu | September 25, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    I’d have to agree, no glamorous images of the actor, not background sounds just pure poetry and few distractions or just audio. Beautiful poem though! I was elevated looking out my window!

  10. CEB | November 9, 2013 at 9:45 am

    What genius decided to take Mahler’s Symphony, with its own emotional picture, and slap it on top of Keats with a different emotional picture altogether? Perhaps elevator music might have been better.

  11. Jennifer | November 28, 2013 at 1:14 am

    Fabulous reading, gratuitous slide show. The music was distracting. The voice, the breath was everything. Thank you!

  12. RC | December 23, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    Interesting, but I prefer the Ben Whishaw version from the Bright Star soundtrack, better music too.

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