We launched The Mark Steyn Club just under a year ago, and on the eve of our first anniversary 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. 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. And we're delighted to say that, since the birth of The Mark Steyn Club, this website now provides more free content each week than at any time in its fifteen-year history.
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 participation rights in our Clubland Q&As live around the planet, the latest of which airs this Tuesday at 4pm North American Eastern Time; and also today's video divertissement - because it takes a real man to be secure enough to read poetry on camera.
Today's poem comes by way of request from Mike Burke, a first-weekend Founding Member from Virginia. Tomorrow, April 30th, Mike and his wife Jenny celebrate their thirtieth anniversary - and the title of this poem is engraved on the wedding band that his bride has worn all these years. "Jenny Kiss'd Me" is a famous poem by a not so famous poet, Leigh Hunt. But, since its first publication in 1838, it has become one of the most anthologized works in the English language. In this video I discuss the background to the poem, connect it to a previous Sunday poem "Ozymandias", and talk about the real-life Jenny who inspired it - Jane Welsh Carlyle (top right). To watch (or hear) "Jenny Kiss'd Me", prefaced by my introduction, please click here and log-in.
Our Sunday Poem series isn't really a request slot, but we're in an indulgent mood in these days before our first birthday, and feel particularly grateful to Mr and Mrs Burke and all our other Founding Members. Aside from the occasional request, 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 pre-birthday edition of Steyn's Song of the Week. And, as I mentioned above, on Tuesday I'll be hosting another Clubland Q&A, taking questions from Mark Steyn Club members live around the planet at 4pm North American 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 fourteenth of which comes up in May;
~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;
~Advance booking for my live appearances around the world;
~Customized email alerts for new content in your areas of interest;
~A special Steyn Club event we'll be announcing during our first-anniversary observances;
~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).