Oh listeners, it’s a rough ride this week. Murder! Nostalgia and death! Thank goodness we’ve got Tom Jones with a 200 year-old joke to save the day…
Rabbi Ben Ezra, by Robert Browning
Read by Diane Havens
Family holidays like Thanksgiving, paging through old photo albums of gatherings past, when my parents were vibrant and more like I remember them, how I always wanted them to remain, makes this poem speak to me in a special way. It reminds me too of my own mortality, my own changing priorities that come with the passing of the years.
This is a monologue poem written by Robert Browning in the voice of the Abraham ibn Ezra (1092-1167), one of the great poets, mathematicians and scholars of the 12th century. The spiritual idea of death being the the natural progression, indeed the goal of a life well lived is central to the poem that begins with the invitation to “Grow old along with me!” It is said that on his deathbed, Thomas Hardy asked for this poem to read. The poem ends as it promises at the start — “Let age approve of youth, and death complete the same!”
The Sum of Us, Story No. 8 from Little (flash) Fiction, by Troy Palmer and Little Fiction
Read by Xe Sands
WARNING: profanity & disturbing crime imagery
Returning to the sometimes visceral and often effecting flash fiction collection from Little Fiction this week…with a short piece from Troy Palmer, founder of Little Fiction.
Atrocities. Crimes that go beyond the pale. We hear of them, well, more accurately, they are fed to us by the media like some form of grotesque entertainment. Some, like “Jane,” forget there is a real person behind the “vic,” a son, a father, a friend. They spread the story like a diseased fairy tale.
Some, most of us likely, simply turn away in horror. Say our prayers to whatever god(s) we worship that it wasn’t us, and try to forget it.
But then there is “Rose,” someone who can’t avoid the feelings of fascination, but who wishes she could rewrite the fairytale with a different ending – collect all the pieces and somehow put him back together again.
Wish I could remember the name of it, but for some reason, “Rose” reminds me of the main character in a short film shown at the first 1 Reel film festival at Bumbershoot MANY years ago. She looks at the world differently, and I don’t know that she feels the same horror that most of us do. I think she tells herself that she does…but then most of us wouldn’t really be thinking about where the blood went.
Tom Jones – Book 2, Chapter 5, by Henry Fielding
Read by Mark Turetsky
Book 2 Chapter 5 of Tom Jones.
This is part of an ongoing project in which I will record and post one chapter per week of Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones over the course of four years.
This week’s chapter is about different conceptions of Christian charity. Captain Blifil insists to Allworthy that it doesn’t mean giving out alms, or any form of generosity. His conception focuses on holding a generous opinion of others. The irony is that he’s using this conversation a) to disinherit young Tommy (there goes generosity) and b) to defame the reputation of Mr. Allworthy, Mr. Partridge, and of course, Tommy (so there goes the Captain’s definition).
Sometimes it feels weird explaining 200 year old jokes. Explaining jokes never works.