The Norton Anthology of Poetry has been in existence for almost fifty years, and during that time the way its audience experiences poetry has changed dramatically. Readers now expect to use their ears as much as their eyes when they encounter poetry; hearing poems read out loud deepens both readers’ enjoyment and their understanding.

For the new, sixth edition of the anthology, Norton has teamed up with The Poetry Archive, this popular UK-based website dedicated to recording poets reading their own work. Together, they have gathered existing Archive recordings of selections that appear in the anthology, and added new recordings of older poems, to create a rich acoustic line-up of poems from across the anthology.

The result does more than simply confirm the anthology’s reputation as an invaluable teaching tool for instructors, and a book that students want to keep long after their courses end. Listening to the poems being read adds a fascinating human element to the experience, prompting questions such as What do the poets sound like? What are their accents? How quickly or slowly do they read? What do their pauses signify? At the same time, dipping into this gathering of recordings confirms by means of new technology an ancient truth: that we understand and appreciate poetry as much by paying attention to sounds as we do by comprehending sense. This is what Robert Frost meant when he said, “The ear does it. The ear is the only true writer and the only true reader.”

– Sir Andrew Motion, Poetry Archive Co-Founder.

Further information on The Norton Anthology of Poetry, including a full table of contents and ordering information, is available here.

The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd - Walter Raleigh - Read by Andrew Motion
Book 1, Canto 1 of The Faerie Queen - Edmund Spenser - Read by Andrew Motion
The Passionate Shepherd to His Love - Christopher Marlowe - Read by Andrew Motion
A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning - John Donne - Read by Andrew Motion

The Author to Her Book

Read by Mary Jo Salter

The Author to Her Book - Anne Bradstreet - Read by Mary Jo Salter

To His Coy Mistress

Read by Mervyn Morris

To His Coy Mistress - Andrew Marvell - Read by Mervyn Morris
On being brought from Africa to America - Phyllis Wheatley - Read by Mary Jo Salter

The Lamb

Read by Andrew Motion

The Lamb - William Blake - Read by Andrew Motion
Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour. July 13, 1798 - William Wordsworth - Read by Andrew Motion

The Raven

Read by David Yezzi

The Raven - Edgar Allan Poe - Read by David Yezzi
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