OLDIE PODCAzT 127: The Eve of St. Agnes and a Bleak Midwinter

This is the Eve of St. Agnes and, therefore, time once again for a PODCAzT I made a while back.  HERE

I, fan of poetry that I am, read out Keat’s poem, 42 Spencerian stanzas.  It is torrid and lush, with marvelous moments and imagery, imbued with the revival of romantic, courtly love which was coming back into vogue in the early 19th century.  The poem takes inspiration from a superstition, which I explain in an introduction.

The Eve of St Agnes would inspire the Pre-Raphaelites, as a matter of fact.

Speaking of Pre-Raphaelites, one of their circle, was Christina Rossetti, a poet in her own right.

Christina Rossetti wrote a poem which later was made into a Christmas carol: In the Bleak Midwinter.  We are still within the Christmas cycle until Candlemas.

When I first posted this, a few prudish knuckleheads had a spittle-flecked nutty in my combox, but we pretty much ignored or deleted them.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Linking Back, PODCAzT, Poetry and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. benedetta says:

    I remember that Fr. Z when some had the spittle flecked nutty in the combox and they were summarily deleted, lol…

    Thanks for reposting and rethanks for the lovely recitation. I am going to grab my trusty Norton anthology so that I might follow along. I originally read this with a fantastic professor at my college who was in his youth a Shakespearean actor. In class he would frequently recite for us, from memory, in such a manner as to make me weep and not only a couple occasions. I took as many classes as I possibly could from that one.

  2. excalibur says:

    ….. but we pretty much ignored or deleted them.

    I wonder what sort of deletion …….. Father Z as hit man?

  3. oldconvert says:

    Having a cold snap for a few days in the UK here, and as I went out to let out my ducks and feed them, the lines of Rossetti were running through my head…”water like a stone”, as I tried to smash the ice on their duckpond. Ducks are ridiculously cheerful in weather that leaves the rest of us climbing over our grandmothers to get back into the warm.

    Hope your ear and general health are better, Father.

  4. lsclerkin says:

    My goodness, Father.
    Is it this day again already?

  5. Robert of Rome says:

    “We are still within the Christmas cycle until Candlemas.” Yes!!

  6. liebemama says:

    You have such a lovely voice, Father.
    Honestly, there were several words I need to look up in the dictionary.

  7. AnAmericanMother says:

    Thanks for the re-podcast of this wonderful poem – you have an excellent reading voice, with just the right amount of emphasis without intruding on the text too much!

    (and three cheers for the mention of Trollope, one of my favorite writers)

    A couple of sidelights that might be of interest —
    Rudyard Kipling wrote an *amazing* short story about “The Eve of St. Agnes” – drawing on Keats, pharmacy, and amateur radio. Even if you don’t like Kipling it’s a great read: Wireless (his comments on “unclean as we count uncleanliness” are very astute).
    “In the bleak midwinter” by Christina Rosetti (a far better poet than her brother was a painter) was also set by “Peter Warlock” (Philip Heseltine – who had silly Wiccan pretensions but still composed a lovely setting).

Comments are closed.