Tuesday, January 08, 2008

I became interested in Christopher Smart back in 1978 by way of the composer Benjamin Britten.  Britten’s ‘Rejoice in the Lamb’ (a Festival Cantata) is a setting of parts from Smart’s long poem, Jubilate Agno.  Included (in Britten’s cantata) are some lines from what is probably Smart’s best known lines, ‘For I Will Consider My Cat Jeoffry.’  Here Smart takes his beloved cat as an example of nature praising God by being simply what the Creator intended it to be.  Probably the popularity of this poem is due to its inclusion in Pound’s anthology.  (Bucke does not include Smart on his list of instances—lesser, imperfect or otherwise—but I think maybe so.)

And now, Hooting Yard present a complete reading of Christopher Smart's Jubilate Agno with Frank Key and Germander Speedwell.

Dear Frank,

Once again I thank you for bringing this reading/recording to my attention. It is simply extraordinary. It is excellent, it is historical. And if I may, I think it is remarkable the having a female voice in the response, this makes the listening easier, never monotonous (never wearisome!). The voices compliment and complement each other. Smart is my affinity, my kin. He is encyclopaedic. I sense so deeply his sense of isolation, I am so deeply moved by his sense of isolation and frustration. At the 1:56 time there begins the part "For I Will Consider My Cat Jeoffry" and at that pont I followed along in my text. This complete reading of Jubilate Agno has not only been a pleasure and an education for me, it has been an episode.

Yours sincerely,

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