This highly entertaining anthology of verse is the comic, tragic, tender, and telling story of life's seven ages, from childhood to old age. Within the framework of Shakespeare's speech, "The Seven Ages of Man," performed by Sir Ian McKellen, are 150 great poems from all ages, from Chaucer to Emily Dickinson to Walt Whitman and many others. The poem are presented by the finest cast ever assembled on one recording and includes Ralph Fiennes, Dame Judi Dench, John Cleese, Michael Caine, and more.
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Poetic delight. Lyric ecstasy. Personally, it's the best collection of poems ever. Should you have any doubts about that, look at the list of poems and the narrators. (Part I/Disc I) 1. Autumn from 4 Seasons/Capella Istropiltana - Stephen Gunzenhauser (conductor) 2. Shakespeare, Seven Ages from As You Like It, Act II Scene VII - Sir Ian McKellen 3. A Fancy - The Rose Consort Of Viols 4. Shakespeare, From All the world's a stage: Infant (excerpt) - Sir Ian McKellen 5. Thom Gunn, Baby Song - Catherine McCormack 6. Ann Stevenson, The Victory - Richard Jackson 7. Emily Dickinson, Surgeons - Gayle Hunnicutt 8. Shakespeare, Fancy from Merchant of Venice, Act III Scene 2 - Mark Rylance 9. Ogden Nash, Guppy - Prunella Scales 10. Edward Lear, Quangle Wangle's Hat - Connie Booth 11. Thomas Hood, I Remember, I Remember - Ralph Fiennes 12. William Allingham, The Fairies - Juliet Stevenson 13. Thomas Hood, A Parental Ode - Ralph Fiennes 14. Robert L. Stevenson, My Shadow - Stella Gonet 15. Edward Lear, The Owl and the Pussy Cat - John Cleese 16. A. A. Milne, Sneezles - Andrew Sachs 17. Lewis Carroll, The Walrus and the Carpenter - Joss Ackland w/ Peter Bayliss 18. Ted Hughes, Jellyfish - Leo Sayer 19. G.K. Chesterton, The Donkey - Emma Fielding 20. Anonymous (or Christopher Isherwood?), The Common Cormorant - Andrew Sachs 21. R.L. Stevenson, Where Go the Boats - Stella Gonet 22. Ted Hughes, Crab - Leo Sayer 23. A.A. Milne, The End - Catherine McCormack 24. Midsummer Nights Dream (Uphill Down Dale) - Barry Wordsworth (conductor) 25. Shakespeare, From All the world's a stage: School - Sir Ian McKellen 26. R.L. Stevenson, To Any Reader - John Sessions 27. Dylan Thomas, Under Milk Wood - Ioan Gruffudd 28. Vernon Watkins, The Collier - Ioan Gruffudd 29. Shel Silverstein, Sick - Catherine McCormack 30. John Whitworth, Boring - John Cleese 31. John Whittier, From The Barefoot Boy - Jenny Agutter 32. Full Fathom Five from Tempest, Act I Scene 2 - Dame Glenda Jackson 33. Oscar Wilde, Rosa Mystica - Michael Williams 34. Rudyard Kipling, A Smuggler's Song - Michael Caine 35 C. Day Lewis, Walking Away - Timothy West 36 Hilaire Belloc, Tarantella - Terence Stamp 37 T.S. Eliot, Macavity - David Suchet 38 Rudyard Kipling, If - Michael Caine 39 Shakespeare, From Hamlet: This Above All - Michael Maloney 40. M. George Whitehead and His Almand - performed by Rose Consort Of Viols 41. Shakespeare, From All the World's a Stage: Lover - Sir Ian McKellen 42. W.B. Yeats, The Arrow - Art Malisk 43. H.W. Longfellow, The Arrow and the Song - HRH The Duchess Of Kent 44. Rabindranath Tagore, They Who Are Near to Me - Art Malik 45. Christina Rossetti, The First Day - Felicity Kendal 46. T.L. Beddoes, From The Song of Torrismond - Janet Suzman 47. R.S. Bridges, My Delight and Thy Delight - Ralph Fiennes 48. E.B. Browning, Sonnet 43 - Hannah Gordon 49. R. Kipling, The Virginity - Terence Stamp 50. P.B. Shelley, The Longest Journey - Samuel West 51. Anonymous, We Have Known Treasure - Charles Dance 52. Shakespeare, Sonnet 138 - Robert Lindsay 53. C. Rossetti, Echo - Dame Glenda Jackson 54. R. Tagore, Delusions I Did Cherish - Art Malik 55. Shakespeare, Sonnet 18 - Dame Glenda Jackson 56. A. E. Housman, When I Was One-And-Twenty - Pete Postlethwaite 57. W. B. Yeats, The Mermaid - Juliet Stevenson 58. Robert Herrick, Upon the Nipples of Julia's Breast - Terence Stamp 59. Robert Burns, My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose - John Sessions 60. Shakespeare, Sonnet 116 - Robert Lindsay 61. D. H. Lawrence, New Year's Eve - Michael Maloney 62. D. H. Lawrence, Green - Michael Maloney 63. John Keats, A Thing of Beauty Is a Joy Forever - Mark Rylance
(Part II/Disc II) 1. Stravinsky: A Soldier's Tale - Nicholas Ward (conductor) 2. Shakespeare, From All the world's a stage: Soldier - Sir Ian McKellen 3. Shakespeare, Prologue from King Henry 5 - Mark Rylance 4. Julian Grenfell, Into Battle - Juliet Stevenson 5. W. B. Yeats, An Irish Airman Foresees His Death - William Houston 6. James Russell Lowell, Once to Every Man and Nation - Dame Judi Dench 7. Seamus Heaney, Whatever You Say, Say Nothing - William Houston 8. John McCrea, In Flanders Fields - Robert Powell 9. Vera Brittain, Perhaps - Dame Judi Dench 10. Wilfred Owen, Anthem for Doomed Youth - Robert Powell 11. Wilfred Owen, Dulce at Decorum Est / Lord Owen 12. Eva Dobell, Pluck - Felicity Kendal 13. W. H. Auden, From In Memory of W.B. Yeats - Art Malik 14. John Jarmain, At a War Grave - Michael Malony 15. John Jarmain, El Alamein - Michael Malony 16. Ruth Fainlight, Handbag - Prunella Scales 17. Elsie Cawser , Salvage Song - Michael Maloney 18. Rudyard Kipling, England - Michael Caine 19. Matthew Arnold, Dover Beach - Michael Williams 20. Dan Pagis, Written With a Pencil in a Sealed Wagon - Janet Suzman 21. John Donne, No Man Is an Island - Ed Bishop 22. Luis de Narvaez: Fantasia - Shirley Rumsey 23. Shakespeare, From All the World's a Stage: Wisdom - Sir Ian McKellen 24. Shakespeare, The Quality of Mercy from Merchant of Venice, Act IV Scene 1 - Ralph Fiennes 25. John Boyle O’Reilly , What Is Good - Dame Judi Dench 26. Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass - Art Malik 27. Anonymous, Addendum to the Ten Commandments - Michael Caine 28. Geoffrey Chaucer, From The Canterbury Tales: A Student - Emma Fielding 29. James Leigh Hunt, Abou Ben Adhem - Robert Powell 30. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Song of Hiawatha (excerpt) - Clarke Peters 31. William Wordsworth, My Heart Leaps Up - Robert Hardy 32. William Blake, Auguries of Innocence - Timothy West 33. William Blake, The Tyger - Timothy West 34. Emily Dickinson, Of All Souls That Stand Create - Gayle Hunnicutt 35. Percy Bysshe Shelley, Chorus of Spirits - Prunella Scales 36. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Kubla Khan - Pete Postlethwaite 37. Robert Burns, A Man's a Man for A' That - John Sessions 38. Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken - John Cleese 39. Anonymous, The Bleed'n' Sparrer - Michael Caine 40. The King of Denmark's Galiard performed by the Rose Consort of Viols 41. Shakespeare, From All the World's a Stage: Sixth Age - Sir Ian McKellen 42. W. B. Yeats, Politics - Michael Caine 43. Ogden Nash, Peekaboo, I Almost See You - David Suchet 44. Ogden Nash, Samson Agonistes - David Suchet 45. John Masefield , Sea Fever - Terence Stamp 46. Emily Dickinson, Exultation - Gayle Hunnicutt 47. Morris Bishop, We Have Been Here Before - Charles Dance 48. Alfred, Lord Tennyson From The Brook - Janet Suzman 49. William Wordsworth, Upon Westminster Bridge - Robert Hardy 50. J. Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, A Song of a Young Lady to Her Ancient Lover - Janet Suzman 51. Robert Burns, John Anderson, My Jo - Stella Gonet 52. Stanley J. Sharples, In Praise of Cocoa, Cupid's Nightcap - Emma Fielding 53. Rudyard Kipling, The Way Through the Woods - Art Malik 54. Christina Rossetti, From Uphill - HRH The Duchess Of Kent 55. Shakespeare, From All the World's a Stage: Last Scene - Sir Ian McKellen 56. Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night - Ioan Gruffudd 57. Christina Rossetti, Song - Jenny Agutter 58. Leo Marks, Code Poem for the French Resistance - Ralph Fiennes 59. Emily Dickinson, This World Is Not Conclusion - Gayle Hunnicutt 60. Robert Louis Stevenson, Requiem - John Sessions 61. Christina Rossetti, Sleeping at Last - Dame Judi Dench 62. Shakespeare, Fear No More from Cymbeline, Act IV Scene 2 - Sir Ian McKellen 63. John Banister Tabb, Evolution/Autumn from Four Seasons (Reprise) - Mark Rylance
I really loved this disc, which was originally recorded as a tribute to the life of Princess Di. The readings are incredible, and my favorite was John Cleese's reading of Owl & The Pussycat. The poetry selections are perfect to follow the line of Shakespeare's ages of man and the readers were wonderfully chosen. High recommend.