Saturday, July 21, 2012

Leda and the Swan by W. B. Yeats

Performed by Bob González, rhapsode

Leda and the Swan by W. B. Yeats
A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
                    Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?
Poet Bio at

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Shakespearean Sonnet Celebration

A collection of 21 sonnets by William Shakespeare.

Visit the Internet Archive page to listen in streaming audio or to download all or selected files

Or click on any single sonnet to download now:

146 Poor Soul! The Centre
138 When My Love Swears
129 The Expense of Spirit
154 The Little Love God
73 That Time of Year
91 Some Glory In Their Birth
21 So Is It Not With Me
65 Since Brass Nor Stone
148 O Me, What Eyes Hath Love
123 No, Time, Thou Shalt Not Boast
71 No Longer Mourn For Me
33 Full Many a Glorious Morning
153 Cupid Laid By His Brand
103 Alack! What Poverty
63 Against My Love Shall Be
27 Weary With Toil
02 When Forty Winters
12 When I Do Count the Clock
15 When I Consider Everything
75 So Are You To My Thoughts
76 Why Is My Verse

These were recorded in April 2011 as part of a personal project in observance of U.S. Poetry Month. I memorized one poem per day, including all of these sonnets. I have been recording texts for LibriVox since May 2011 and when going back to these recordings I made as I studied and memorized these sonnets, I find that these have more vigor and polish than most of the poetry recordings (and other recordings) I made for LibriVox. I believe this is because I studied each of these sonnet intensively across an entire waking in order to perform them from memory in the evening. Consequently, I believe they are more "mine" than all of the LibriVox recordings I have made because, since the end goal is simply to record from a script, I do not "internalize" the texts to the degree I did when the end goal was performing from memory. This brings out an important consideration. Should I prepare all pieces as if I was going to perform them live from memory? Of course, many pieces would never come to be if they had to be performed this way - entire novels and anything of any significant length. Even shorter texts require exponentially more time to memorize than to read from a script. Is it possible to have the same vigor and passion in readings as from live performances from memory? I think the danger inherent in the live memorized piece can bring out the energy and vitality mostly absent from a piece read from a script. How could that danger be - or some equally effective equivalent - be introduced into readings?

In any case, I hope you enjoy listening to these as much as I enjoyed and benefited from them.

Friday, July 13, 2012

First Player's Speech from Hamlet

Audio Performance by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

A troupe of traveling players have come to Hamlet's castle at Elsinore. Prince Hamlet greets them with gusto, even beginning to recite a speech of Aeneas' tale to Dido he once heard the head of the troupe perform. After delivering a handful of lines with vigor, Hamlet then asks the First Player to continue from where he left off.

Hamlet Act 2, Scene 2, lines1542-1592

First Player

    'Anon he finds him
    Striking too short at Greeks; his antique sword,
    Rebellious to his arm, lies where it falls,
    Repugnant to command: unequal match'd,
    Pyrrhus at Priam drives; in rage strikes wide;
    But with the whiff and wind of his fell sword
    The unnerved father falls. Then senseless Ilium,
    Seeming to feel this blow, with flaming top
    Stoops to his base, and with a hideous crash
    Takes prisoner Pyrrhus' ear: for, lo! his sword,
    Which was declining on the milky head
    Of reverend Priam, seem'd i' the air to stick:
    So, as a painted tyrant, Pyrrhus stood,
    And like a neutral to his will and matter,
    Did nothing.
    But, as we often see, against some storm,
    A silence in the heavens, the rack stand still,
    The bold winds speechless and the orb below
    As hush as death, anon the dreadful thunder
    Doth rend the region, so, after Pyrrhus' pause,
    Arouséd vengeance sets him new a-work;
    And never did the Cyclops' hammers fall
    On Mars's armour forged for proof eterne
    With less remorse than Pyrrhus' bleeding sword
    Now falls on Priam.
    Out, out, thou strumpet, Fortune! All you gods,
    In general synod  - take away her power;  [council]
    Break all the spokes and fellies from her wheel,
    And bowl the round nave down the hill of heaven,
    As low as to the fiends!'


    'But who, O, who had seen the mobled queen--'


First Player

    'Run barefoot up and down, threatening the flames
    With bisson rheum; a clout upon that head [“blinding tears”][bandage]
    Where late the diadem stood, and for a robe,
    About her lank and all o'er-teeméd loins, [slender]
    A blanket, in the alarm of fear caught up;//
    Who this had seen, with tongue in venom steep'd,
    'Gainst Fortune's state would treason have
    But if the gods themselves did see her then
    When she saw Pyrrhus make malicious sport
    In mincing with his sword her husband's limbs,
    The instant burst of clamour that she made,
    Unless things mortal move them not at all,
    Would have made milch the burning eyes of heaven, [yielding milk]
    And passion in the gods.'

This performance was created for an unabridged audio production of Hamlet now in progress on