Welcome to this weekend's entry in our Mark Steyn Club anthology of video poetry - and by sheer coincidence it's by a writer Joe Biden quoted in his Super Thursday victory speech:
To paraphrase the poet Robert Browning, our reach should exceed our grasp. And my reach does exceed our grasp, because I believe we can grasp whatever we reach for.
Er, okay. Close enough for government work. What Browning actually wrote, in his poem about the painter Andrea del Sarto, was:
Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what's a heaven for?
One thing a heaven's for is one's late loves - which is the subject of the Browning poem I've chosen, after some prompting by our film columnist Kathy Shaidle. My Last Duchess is an ingenious piece first published by the poet in his Dramatic Lyrics of 1842. In this video I discuss the background to the work and a little bit of Browning's life, and then give it a go. To watch My Last Duchess, please click here and log-in.
If you'd like to catch up on earlier poems in the series, you can find them on our Sunday Poems home page. As with Tales for Our Time and our music specials and The Mark Steyn Show, we're archiving my video poetry in an easy-to-access Netflix-style tile format that we hope makes it the work of moments to prowl around and alight on something that piques your interest of a weekend, whether Kipling or Keats. One other bonus of Steyn Club membership is that you can enjoy much of our content in whichever is your preferred form - video, audio, text. So, if you'd rather hear me read My Last Duchess off-camera, please click here.
Steyn's Sunday Poem is made possible by members of The Mark Steyn Club. We launched the Steyn Club over two years ago, and in this our third season I'm immensely heartened by all the longtime SteynOnline regulars - from Fargo to Fiji, Madrid to Malaysia, West Virginia to Witless Bay - who've signed up to be a part of it. Membership in The Mark Steyn Club also comes with non-poetic benefits, including:
~Our latest audio adventure in Tales for Our Time, and its thirty-three thrilling predecessors;
~Other audio series on pertinent topics, such as our recent nightly installments of Climate Change: The Facts;
~Exclusive Steyn Store member pricing on over 40 books, mugs, T-shirts, and other products;
~The opportunity to engage in live Clubland Q&A sessions with yours truly (such as Friday's);
~Transcript and audio versions of Mark's Mailbox, The Mark Steyn Show, and other video content, including today's poem;
~Advance booking for my live appearances around the world, including exclusive members-only events such as The Mark Steyn Christmas Show;
~Customized email alerts for new content in your areas of interest;
~The opportunity to join me and my guests on our annual Mark Steyn Cruise;
~and the chance to support our print, audio and video ventures as they wing their way around the planet.
One other benefit to Club Membership is our Comment Club privileges. So, if you like or dislike this feature, or consider my poem reading a bust, then feel free to comment away below. Please do stay on topic on all our comment threads, because that's the way to keep them focused and readable. With that caution, have at it (in verse, if you wish).