This week, the week before Christmas 2017, I mused over some of T.S. Eliot’s holiday-season “Ariel poems” — “Journey of the Magi,” “A Song for Simeon,” “Animula,” and finally the unjustly neglected (and my personal favorite) “The Cultivation of Christmas Trees” — and I hope that they gave you as much pleasure as they did myself.
To wrap things up, a little audio present for you. Last New Year’s Day — January 1, 2017 — the BBC ran a splendid series of programs which featured Jeremy Irons reading just about all of Eliot’s collected verse. You can find the entire series here, but below is a 38-minute excerpt from the whole, in which you can hear Irons reading all of the poems published here this week. As an introduction, host Martha Kearney interviews actress Fiona Shaw about Eliot’s poetry; Ms. Shaw after discussing her own performance of Eliot’s poems proceeds to compare Eliot favorably with Samuel Beckett, Leonard Cohen (well … okay), and Beyoncé (about this I’m not so sure). But the interview is quite brief, and Irons’ glorious performances of “The Hollow Men” and the other poems follow.
Coincidentally, Irons plays Hans Gruber’s brother in one of the sequels to my favorite Christmas movie, Die Hard. Michael Hann wrote about this cheerful holiday entertainment in the Guardian yesterday.
I’ll be lifting a holiday glass with my lovely wife at Cafe Katja this afternoon. Merry Christmas to all.