Rogert Ebert posted a tribute to Samuel Taylor Coleridge on his blog (in the Chicago Sun-Times) yesterday because he died on 25 July 1834.  Ebert has  a 1977 experimental film of Rime of the Ancient Mariner  read by Orson Welles and animated with Gustave Doré’s original engravings for the poem. I watched a little bit of it but didn’t have a half-hour to devote to the entire three-part presentation.

Kubla Khan hunting. Taipei National Museum

I assume Ebert pays far less attention to Kubla Khan because he didn’t have a half-hour of material to devote to it. “There is Tom O’Bedlam reading Kubla Khan,”  he says. I didn’t know who Tom O’Bedlam was, so I did a quick search and found the Poet’s Musings blog post about him:

For about two years, a person with the alias Tom O’Bedlam has been reading poetry, animating the readings with images–often of the text itself--and uploading the audio/video to Youtube.  …

You’ll find old favorites and lots of surprises. And you’ll find a link to a farcical story about Youtube’s attempting to kick Tom off the premises, simply because he used a photo of a woman with one breast exposed in connection with a poem he read by Michael Ondaatje. Film critic Roger Ebert was drawn into the silliness, and Tom’s channel was returned to good standing. I’ll provide a link here to the tale as told by Ebert  (this next part isn’t about the tale, but rather an intro to the Spoken Verse channel)

… One of the richest resources on YouTube is an extraordinary channel named SpokenVerse. It offers 466 readings of great poems in English, from Shakespeare to today.

The anonymous reader signs himself “Tom O’Bedlam,” a name taken from a 17th century poem about a lunatic. I believe I recognize his unmistakable voice, but that is for you to decide. 

I didn’t recognize the voice, but maybe some day I will. Anyway, below is Spoken Verse’s YouTube presentation of Coleridge’s Kubla Khan in animated-text. 

Kubla Khan

By Samuel Taylor Coleridge

In Xanadu did Kublai Khan
A stately Pleasure-Dome decree,
Where Alph, the sacred river ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea. …

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