Reading Rilke’s Swan

I think it was Borges who used to remind us that poetry began as an oral tradition and that in these days of print it is still meant to be read out loud. This hit home for me recently when a friend read one of my own poems at a funeral service and when British poet, John Anstie, recorded his reading of another of my poems. Even though I had written these poems and labored over their births, they gained a new dimension for me in the hands of these good poets who also happen to be good at oral delivery. On that note, I take special joy in the poetry of David Whyte and I particularly appreciate his skilled readings of his own work and that of other poets. In the video below David reads and interprets Rilke’s The Swan and Walcott’s Love After Love. I listen to his readings of these two renown poems several times a week and never tire of hearing them. Jamie 

LoResPublicityPoet David Whyte grew up with a strong, imaginative influence from his Irish mother among the hills and valleys of his father’s Yorkshire. He now makes his home, with his family, in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.

The author of six books of poetry and three books of prose, David Whyte holds a degree in Marine Zoology and has traveled extensively, including living and working as a naturalist guide in the Galapagos Islands and leading anthropological and natural history expeditions in the Andes, the Amazon and the Himalaya. He brings this wealth of experience to his poetry, lectures and workshops.

His life as a poet has created a readership and listenership in three normally mutually exclusive areas: the literate world of readings that most poets inhabit, the psychological and theological worlds of philosophical enquiry and the world of vocation, work and organizational leadership.

An Associate Fellow at Templeton College and Said Business School at the University of Oxford, he is one of the few poets to take his perspectives on creativity into the field of organizational development, where he works with many European, American and international companies. In spring of 2008 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Neumann College, Pennsylvania.

In organizational settings, using poetry and thoughtful commentary, he illustrates how we can foster qualities of courage and engagement; qualities needed if we are to respond to today’s call for increased creativity and adaptability in the workplace. He brings a unique and important contribution to our understanding of the nature of individual and organizational change particularly through his unique perspectives on Conversational Leadership.

portrait and bio courtesy of David Whyte


Video uploaded to YouTube by tjmjkm.

13 thoughts on “Reading Rilke’s Swan

  1. I do like when poetry is read aloud. I remember going to cafes in Greenwich Village or the square and listening to aspiring poets read their poems. It was a quiet and calm environment. It was filled with and meant to stir our emotions. It brought us together for the same enjoyment.
    Thanks for introducing me to Poet David Whyte.
    Isadora

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    1. I have such memories too and had forgotton until I read your comment. Assume you mean Washington Square … and did you used to go to the art fair? We went every spring. Glad you enjoyed David. Be well ….

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      1. Yes .. it is Washington Square. When I first started to sell my jewelry, I did it there on a laid out tie dye blanket. My hubby would play his clarinet. There were always lots of musicians, jugglers, poets and little groups of actors putting on small acts.
        It was the in place for artists. It may still be today but I haven’t been there since I moved to Florida in ’89.
        Glad my comment brought back a few memories. ~~~: – )
        Isadora

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        1. It did! They still have the art fair, but it sounds like it is much more commercial, not as free form as the old day. Florida? You mean NY South? 🙂

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        2. You would be write if I lived on the east coast of FLA. It’s the area most New Yorkers move to. I was looking for the laid back tropical lifestyle which is on the West coast of FLA. Sarasota is known for the arts. We are close to that town so we can enjoy the culture of the arts and still have the tropical paradise that most islands are.
          I’ve had N.Y. friends visit and say they can’t tolerate the quietness of where I live. I wanted that and love it. I have my memories of what the big city was and I think it’s enough. Perhaps, age changes our perspective. ~~~~~~ : – )

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  2. Thanks for including the video, Jamie. I love the way David Whyte explains the poems with such care and will drop,by YouTube to see what else I can find – I would like to hear John Anstie reading your poem.

    It’s an interesting coincidence that last Friday I was at the ‘end of term party’ for my Open University group (celebrating our Creative Writing course) and they’d asked me to take a poem to be read a stanza each. ‘Chatterton’ is a poem in nine voices – to hear others reading my words was just wonderful – as you say, it adds a dimension that one barely considers.

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    1. Polly, what a lovely experience for you. I’m glad that happened and that you also enjoyed David’s reading. His poetry is quite soulful, organic. John Anstie’s reading of my poem “The View From My Place” is, I think, the fourth or fifth poem down at this time on his SoundCloud site. Enjoy the pleasure of hearing him reading his own poems as well.

      Thanks, Polly, for your visits and comment.

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