We launched The Mark Steyn Club just this summer, and I'm immensely heartened by all the longtime SteynOnline regulars - from Fargo to Fiji, Vancouver to Vanuatu, Madrid to Malaysia - who've signed up to be a part of it. As I said at the time, membership isn't for everyone, but it is a way of ensuring that all our content remains available for everyone - all my columns, audio interviews, video content, all our movie features and songs of the week. None of it's going behind a paywall, because I want it out there in the world, being read and heard and viewed, and maybe changing an occasional mind somewhere along the way.
That said, we are introducing a few bonuses for our Club Members - not locking up our regular content, which will always be free, but admitting members to a few experimental features, such as today's video divertissement. This occasional feature celebrates some classic poetry I've mentioned in my books and columns over the years - verse that speaks to our own age as much as the poet's own. As I said when we introduced our audio series Tales for Our Time, if it turns out a total stinkeroo, we shall never speak of it again. But, if it avoids stinkeroo status, we may put it on DVD or some digital download format at Amazon. So bear with us, because it's a work in progress.
I thought an ongoing weekend poetry anthology might be a useful addition to the SteynOnline line-up, in part because, if it turns out that poetry on TV is where the big bucks are, I'll look like a genius. And, if that's not the case, then more modestly I'd like to do my bit to keep some of this stuff in circulation - especially given the state of western education systems and the increasing brazenness of the new barbarians. As you might have noticed from recent asides in print and on air, I'm concerned about the erasure, in the broadest sense, of our cultural inheritance - the once widely recognized allusions that fewer and fewer people know. I never thought I had a spectacular education, but by the time I was a teenager I had more lines of English verse bobbing around in my head than my own kids do. And I think that's a loss.
Today's poem was a prophetic one - Rudyard Kipling's Recessional, written at the height of imperial power in Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee year of 1897. I've quoted it on several occasions over the years. In today's episode I'll explain why. It's a profound work, and its premonitions apply far beyond Victorian England. To watch it (or hear it), prefaced by my introduction, please click here and log-in.
For our previous poem, Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold, please click here.
Membership in The Mark Steyn Club does come with some non-poetic benefits, including:
~Our nightly radio serial Tales for Our Time, the fourth of which starts this coming Friday;
~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;
~Transcript and audio versions of The Mark Steyn Show, SteynPosts, and other video content, including today's poem;
~My new quarterly newsletter The Clubbable Steyn, the second issue of which we're currently putting together;
~Advance booking for my live appearances around the world;
~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 you like or dislike this brand new feature, or consider my poem reading a bust, then feel free to comment away below. I weigh in on the comment threads myself from time to time, but sparingly - because it's mainly your turf, so have at it (in verse, if you wish).