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 - because it takes a real man to be secure enough to read poetry on Superbowl Sunday. And, as it happens, this famous meditation on fleeting glory is worth bearing in mind in a sporting context.
Today's poem is celebrating its bicentennial: Shelley's "Ozymandias" was first published in The Examiner on January 11th 1818 as a competition entry. It outlasted the newspaper to become the poet's most famous short work. In this video I discuss the background to the poem, and quote from a rival competition entry by Shelley's friend Horace Smith - and from another literary game of Shelley and his pals, to write a poem about Egypt. To watch (or hear) "Ozymandias", prefaced by my introduction, please click here and log-in.
This ongoing weekend poetry anthology was started for two reasons: First and most obviously, 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. 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.
For verse of a rather different kind, join me this evening for a special audio edition of Steyn's Song of the Week. And on Tuesday I'll be hosting another Clubland Q&A, taking questions from Mark Steyn Club members live around the planet at 4pm US Eastern Time.
Membership in The Mark Steyn Club does come with some non-poetic benefits, including:
~Our nightly radio serial Tales for Our Time, the eleventh of which starts later this month;
~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, the latest of which will air this Tuesday;
~Transcript and audio versions of The Mark Steyn Show, SteynPosts, and other video content, including today's poem;
~My quarterly newsletter The Clubbable Steyn, the newest 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).