Welcome to a brand new entry to our Mark Steyn Club anthology of video poetry: In today's Sunday Poem, we mark the bicentennial of the death of one of the greatest of all romantic poets and then read a poem he wrote that prefigures it.
As I recount in my introduction, Percy Bysshe Shelley died two hundred years ago sailing up the Italian coast from Livorno back home to Lerici:
The storm clouds were gathering, they were warned against making the voyage that day, they had no need to make it that day, but Shelley insisted on sailing. Edward Williams had been in the navy and thought he was as good a reader of the sea and the skies as anybody. When the Don Juan had been built to the poet's specifications, it was described as quote 'very crank in a breeze' and dispatched to Shelley with two experienced seamen and a plucky young sailor lad from Cornwall, all of whom were expected to be part of the crew. But the poet sent back the two old sea dogs and kept only the Cornish boat boy...
To watch my reading of On Death, prefaced by my introduction on Shelley and his final days, please click here and log-in.
Thank you for all your kind comments about this feature. Tony Allwright, a First Fortnight Founding Member of The Mark Steyn Club, writes of last month's poem:
Loved it! Your best poem yet, with a wonderful intro to boot.
Well done, Mark.
Thank you, Tony. Like many Club members, Susan Havey from Michigan especially appreciated the very meta ending:
OMG What a great laugh I got from your shout out to 'Susan'.
Much welcomed. Thank you.
You're welcome, Susan.
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, Keats or The Kangaroo.
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 On Death off-camera, please click here.
Steyn's Sunday Poem is a special production for The Mark Steyn Club. We launched the Steyn Club five years ago, and 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 sixty thrilling predecessors;
~Other audio series on pertinent topics, such as our 2019 serialization of Climate Change: The Facts and our 2021 adaptation of Mark Steyn's Passing Parade;
~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 this coming 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, assuming such events are ever again lawfully permitted;
~Customized email alerts for new content in your areas of interest;
~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 the above poem does not tickle your fancy, then give it your best 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).