We’ve got an old Irish wife, a cadaver and a bit of absurdist wit to round out May…
The Jumblies, by Edward Lear
Read by Diane Havens
Edward Lear, Victorian artist and poet, is best known for his absurd wit. Children have long loved his clever, imaginative wordplay — I still do.
“Far and few are the lands where the Jumblies live” — so I figured I’d put them in Queens, New York. Anyone familiar with the old sitcom “All in the Family” will recognize my homage to Edith Bunker in the voice of the Jumblies — and that awful Bunker duet in the singing herein. (I truly do sing much better than these Jumblies, trust me.) I made sure to play the narrator as properly pompous, with much more gravitas than this story deserves.
A Woman and Her Dead Husband, by D. H. Lawrence
Read by Xe Sands
Ah Lawrence. This all started with Lawrence you know. Well, actually it all started with Robin Sachs’ narration of The Wreck of the Hesperus…but I chose Lawrence for the inaugural piece for Going Public, last September.
What is it about him? Gave that some thought this morning – why this love/hate relationship I have with him? There are certainly better writers from his time period…so why do they not call to me the same way? Is it the sex, the sensual imagery? He’s certainly got that going for him (intentionally so – Lawrence was on a bit of a mission in that regard), but it’s more than that – he weaves a current of sensuality through all his work (even this piece).
No…it really comes down to this: Lawrence was my first “bad boy.” He’s volatile, passionate, loving, hating, arrogant, vulnerable. He is, in short, an angry wounded hero who could be ripped from the pages of most modern romance novels.
(He’d be appalled, I’m sure – but too bad…he’s dead, I’m not, ergo I get to describe him as I see fit.)
He and his work are like a siren’s call to all of us who love the bad boys, the wounded heroes.
So to this week’s selection, then. What intrigues me most about Lawrence is not Chatterley (although his commentary on that book is quite phenomenal – worth looking up if you haven’t). It’s that current of sensuality that is woven through his work, especially when he isn’t entirely trying. Because that current is the foundation for life itself – it runs through all living things from birth through death. It’s not actually about sex, but about the deep connection we feel between us. And sometimes, Lawrence draws on that current most when writing about grief, about anger, about loss.
This poem is one of those. Why did I voice her old…and Irish? Who knows. That’s how she wanted to be voiced. Took several passes over the last few months for me to notice that he never actually specifies age – but this felt authentic to me. As for the Irish – she was pretty insistent…I’ve learned to voice them how they want to be 🙂