Poetry Forum > The Brontës - Selected Poems

This title has been recorded and is currently in postproduction. More information soon...

February 10, 2011 | Registered CommenterTextbook Stuff

Whoa!!! 40 poems in one release! Then there's not just two or three, but four music suites from Textbook Stuff's first-class composer Howard carter! Ooooh, plus nine minutes worth of bonus material... as you folks say in the UK, cor blimey! :-O And at that fantastic price, gosh, I'd happily pay more for this. :)

Thanks so much for making this available, as you have done with your other titles, via Lulu.com where I got my copy, as well as iTunes where my friends can pick it up when they've given into my pestering. :D I've been impatiently waiting for this release as it features two of my top favourite poetry readers: the Magnificent Miriam Margolyes, and that multi-talented, anything-I-touch-turns-into-gold, charming chappy with the sexy voice... what's his name? :p No no no, not Nick Pegg... the sexier one. ;)

I am extremely tempted to jump straight to the Patrick Branwell Brontë tracks, but I will try to exert some self-restraint... all right, A LOT of self-restraint... and listen to the tracks as they are ordered in the release (something I wasn't able to do with all four collections in Poetry Series 1). I am looking forward to listening to Charlotte Brontë's ‘On the Death of...’ poems about her sisters Emily and Anne - those must be heart-wrenchingly beautiful. Need I mention that I'm also itching to check out the music suites? The brief one in the introductory track whetted my appetite.

I hope we get more podcasts soon. I'd like to know how these poems were selected and arranged. For example, while I was waiting for the download of all the files in this release to complete, I listened to the first poem, Emily Brontë's ‘Remembrance’, and wow, what a way to start the collection! Such a simple poem about a personal grief experience regarding the death of a loved one, but elegantly written and the emotions poignantly expressed. I haven't read/heard this poem before, and although anyone who has lost someone they love dearly would know what she's talking about, I'm fascinated with the way the speaker's passion/emotion intensifies with each verse, so that even as there is a shift from grieving to acceptance - for instance, from the stanza:

No later light has lightened up my heaven;
No second morn has ever shone for me:
All my life's bliss from thy dear life was given,
All my life's bliss is in the grave with thee.

- to the stanza:
Then did I check the tears of useless passion,
Weaned my young soul from yearning after thine;
Sternly denied its burning wish to hasten
Down to that tomb already more than mine.

- its tone remains realistic, not aiming to cheer you up with an upbeat ending where the speaker is able to move on and be happy again. I won't quote it here anymore so as not to spoil it for others, but the way Emily Brontë ended this poem is beautiful and powerful... that last line, phew!

I seem to recall my professor in Poetry and Drama saying something about the Brontë sisters being a gloomy bunch, writing mostly about death and lost love - or was it just Emily, or Emily and Charlotte, he was referring to? - but I'm not sure I'm remembering that correctly. Well, if most of the other poems in this collection are as moving as this first one though, then this is definitely one for listening over several days... which is perfect, in my opinion. \o/

March 22, 2011 | Registered CommenterAnthea

'Remembrance' is phenomenal, isn't it? Emily is widely regarded as by far the best of the Brontë poets, but people have often taken that to mean that Charlotte, Anne and Branwell have nothing to offer. That is patent nonsense, of course. It's like saying that because Leonardo is widely regarded as the best Renaissance painter, no other Quattrocento artist is worth bothering with.

I toyed with the idea of just making this an Emily Brontë collection, but then I started reading poems by the other Brontës and I knew I had to do a combined release. Their lives were so intimately bound together that they need to be encountered as a whole. That's not to say that they're all part of a single four-headed literary beast - the 'Brontësaurus', as one literary critic put it - rather that comparing, say, Anne Brontë's 'Lines Written at Thorp Green' with Branwell's 'Thorp Green' gives you a wider understanding of the importance of the place to each of, and all, the Brontës. And, as you say, Charlotte's 'On the Death of Anne Brontë' and 'On the Death of Emily Jane Brontë' are all the more poignant when set alongside those siblings' poems.

The real discovery for me was the work of the much-neglected Patrick Branwell Brontë. 'Memory', 'On Caroline' and 'Epistle From a Father to a Child in Her Grave' are surprisingly powerful.

Howard's sound design and music are, as ever, beautiful. I can't wait for you to hear Emily Brontë's 'The Prisoner' - it's the first time we've done full sound design on a poem (changing background atmospherics, placement of voices, spot effects, the lot). We initially did it with just a musical introduction, but its narrative and dramatic nature was crying out for a different treatment. It's opened my eyes to how full-blown narrative poems such as 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' or 'The Hunting of the Snark' might be brought to life.

March 22, 2011 | Registered CommenterTextbook Stuff

Looking forward to buying this :)
I assume it'll be available from Big Finish like the previous releases...?

March 23, 2011 | Registered CommenterJason Smith

We're hoping to make it available via Big Finish, yes. There's no release date yet, I'm afraid, but it won't be for at least a month. If you'd like it before then, try iTunes (256kbps - same as BF) or Lulu (320kbps).

We'd be very interested to hear what you think of this release. Thanks!

March 23, 2011 | Registered CommenterTextbook Stuff