Sunday, August 2, 2009

Robert Browning (1812-1889) Recites 'How They Brought The Good News From Ghent To Aix' (1838)

Of course I'm having yet another blue stocking moment ... but I was so intrigued today to find a recording of the voice of the English poet Robert Browning. Had to share!

It was made in a sort of impromptu way at a party given by Browning's friend the artist Rudolph Lehmann on the 6th May 1889, the year of the poet's death.

Colonel Gouraud, sales manager of the Edison Talking Machine Company, had brought a phonograph to record the voices of all those present.

Browning was reluctant at first but finally recited part of his 1838 poem 'How They Brought The Good News From Ghent To Aix'.

Perhaps due to nervousness in the face of recording for posterity, Browning forgets his words after ...

I sprang to the saddle, and Joris, and he;

I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three;

'Speed' echoed the wall to us galloping through ...

'Speed' echoed the ...

Then the gate behind us shut, the light sank to rest ...

... and says ...

I'm terribly sorry but I can't remember me own verses,

but one thing I shall remember all me life is the astonishing [?]

by your wonderful machine

Robert Browning

Other voices join in and there's a lot of 'bravoing' and 'hip hip horraying'.

Absolutely remarkable to be able to have any sense at all of the voice of this great man of letters.

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