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By: Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

An exciting, compelling, and eerie ballad, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner focuses on the uncanny experiences of a sailor who has returned from a long sea voyage that has left him with a heavy burden to bear. Furthermore, the poem explores numerous themes including retribution, suffering, salvation, torment, nature, spirituality, and supernaturalism. The poem opens with the appearance of its mysterious protagonist, a skinny old man with a curious glittering eye, as he stops a young man who is on his way to attend a wedding...

By: William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

Book cover Lyrical Ballads (1798)

Lyrical Ballads, with a Few Other Poems is a collection of poems by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, first published in 1798 and generally considered to have marked the beginning of the English Romantic movement in literature. The immediate effect on critics was modest, but it became and remains a landmark, changing the course of English literature and poetry. Most of the poems in the 1798 edition were written by Wordsworth, with Coleridge contributing only four poems to the collection, including one of his most famous works, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"...

By: Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)

Book cover Answer to a Child's Question

LibriVox volunteers bring you 21 recordings of Answer to a Child's Question by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. This was the Weekly Poetry project for October 6, 2013.

By: Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)

Book cover Interpretation

LibriVox volunteers bring you 8 recordings of An Interpretation by Ambrose Bierce. This was the Weekly Poetry project for September 22, 2013.

By: Vachel Lindsay (1879-1931)

The Congo by Vachel Lindsay The Congo

The Congo is one of the best-known poems by American poet Vachel Lindsay (1879-1931). It was revolutionary in its use of sounds and rhythms — as sounds and rhythms — and includes elaborate annotations to guide its spoken performance. Lindsay categorized The Congo as “higher Vaudeville” and was famous for his exuberant performances of it. The poem’s imagery is racist, but Lindsay was a product of his time — born 14 years after the end of the American Civil War in Abraham Lincoln’s hometown, he revered Lincoln and viewed himself as a friend and supporter of African-American culture.

Book cover Chinese Nightingale and Other Poems

This is a collection of poems on various topics by Vachel Lindsay. Please note that the Booker T. Washington trilogy had to be omitted from this collection.

By: William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

Book cover The Prelude

Among monuments of narrative poetry, The Prelude; or, Growth of a Poet's Mind, by William Wordsworth, occupies a unique place. Wordsworth published the first version of the poem in 1798, but continued to work on it for the rest of his life. The final version, which is the subject of this recording, was published posthumously in 1850, by Wordworth’s widow, Mary. The Prelude is the first major narrative poem in European literature which deals solely with the spiritual journey of the author. In this respect the only predecessor to which it can be compared in Dante’s Divine Comedy, which is similarly a journey from personal confusion to certitude, from ignorance to realization...

By: Guy Wetmore Carryl

Grimm Tales Made Gay by Guy Wetmore Carryl Grimm Tales Made Gay

A comic rendering in verse of well-loved Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, each ending with a moral and full of puns. The titles of the tales themselves make another verse.

By: Robert W. Service (1874-1958)

Ballads of a Bohemian by Robert W. Service Ballads of a Bohemian

Ballads of a Bohemian is a collection of poems tied together by the narration of the “author” Stephen Poore. The poems speak of bohemian life in Paris before the war, his experiences during World War I and its aftermath.

Selections from Ballads of a Cheechako by Robert W. Service Selections from Ballads of a Cheechako

These twelve poems are from Ballads of a Cheechako which was Robert W. Service’s third book of Yukon poems, published in 1909. The word Cheechako, from Chinook Jargon, originated in the United States (Alaska) and Canada (Yukon) and was imported into local English during the Yukon gold rush that began in 1896. Cheechako, is a non derogatory word meaning “newcomer” or “tenderfoot.” The derivation looks something like this: chee new cha come ko home.

Book cover Ottawa Folk Festival Robert Service Collection

The Spell of the Yukon by Robert Service with patrons, musicians and organizers. Robert Service is an iconic Canadian poet.

By: Susanna Moodie (1803-1885)

Book cover Roughing It in the Bush

'Roughing It In the Bush' is Susanna Moodie's account of how she coped with the harshness of life in the woods of Upper Canada, as an Englishwoman homesteading abroad. Her narrative was constructed partly as a response to the glowing falsehoods European land-agents were circulating about life in the New World. Her chronicle is frank and humorous, and was a popular sensation at the time of its publication in 1852.

By: Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

A Drama of Exile by Elizabeth Barrett Browning A Drama of Exile

In writing her ‘Drama of Exile’, Barrett’s subject was ‘the new and strange experience of the fallen humanity, as it went forth from Paradise into the wilderness’. The bizarre, lyrical scenes that follow powerfully describe the grief and guilt of Eve, the sorrowful pride of Lucifer, and the redeeming power of love.

The Battle of Marathon by Elizabeth Barrett Browning The Battle of Marathon

The Battle of Marathon is a rhymed, dramatic, narrative-poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Written in 1820, it retells powerfully The Battle of Marathon: during which the Athenian state defeated the much larger invading force during the first Persian invasion of Greece. When Darius the Great orders his immense army march west to annex additional territories; no-one in the Persian court predicted that some fractious, independent Greek city-states stood any chance against the Persian super-power....

By: Aeschylus (c. 525/524-456/455 BC)

Book cover Prometheus Bound (Browning Translation)

Whether or not it was actually written by Aeschylus, as is much disputed, "Prometheus Bound" is a powerful statement on behalf of free humanity in the face of what often seem like the impersonal, implacable Forces that rule the Universe. As one of the most compelling rebel manifestos ever composed, it has appealed not only to the expected host of scholars of Greek drama, but also to a fascinatingly free-spirited array of translators, especially since the early 19th century; Percy Bysshe Shelley, Henry David Thoreau, and activist-poet Augusta Webster are among those who have tried their poetic and linguistic powers at rendering it into English...

By: Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)

A Few Figs from Thistles by Edna St. Vincent Millay A Few Figs from Thistles

A collection of 23 poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Renascence and Other Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay Renascence and Other Poems

The following is a recording of the first volume of poetry published by Edna St. Vincent Millay. When the author had graduated from high school, she couldn’t afford to go to college. In the summer of 1912, Vincent’s sister, Norma, found work as a waitress at a hotel near where they lived. One night, Norma insisted that Vincent attend a masquerade ball, given at the hotel, if only to get Vincent out of the house and to meet people. Vincent finally gave in, and while there, sang songs and recited “Renascence,” the first poem in this collection...

Second April by Edna St. Vincent Millay Second April

A collection of poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay.

By: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930)

Book cover Songs of the Road

Although best known for the creation of the detective Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle did not only write works of mystery and of advenure - he was also a rather successful poet. This is a collection of poems written by the famous author.

Book cover Songs of Action

This is a collection of poems by Arthur Conan Doyle centering around the theme of war, action and adventure.

By: Walter Crane (1845-1915)

Baby's Own Aesop by Walter Crane Baby's Own Aesop

“Baby’s Own Aesop” presents the fables as one-stanza limericks, each “pictorially pointed” by Walter Crane, the noted painter and illustrator. He apprenticed to master wood-engraver, William James Linton, who furnished the draft of the book’s poems for Crane to edit.

By: Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

In Memoriam A.H.H. by Alfred, Lord Tennyson In Memoriam A.H.H.

In Memoriam is Tennyson’s elegiac tribute to his friend Arthur Henry Hallam, who died in 1833 at the age of 22. Tennyson wrote this long poem over 17 years as a chronicle of his mourning process. The poem became a favorite of Queen Victoria when she was grieving for her husband, and was one of the most popular and artistically influential poems of the Victorian period.

By: John Clare (1793-1864)

Selected Poems of John Clare by John Clare Selected Poems of John Clare

John Clare (1793 – 1864) was a farm labourer in the village of Helpstone, Northamptonshire, who became arguably England’s greatest nature poet. He rose to fame when his ‘Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery’ was published in 1820. His language preserves many local dialect words in a mixture of classical forms and heart-felt love of country life and nature. The poems in this collection are from his early career, and are largely free of pointers to his later mental illness.

By: Eugene Field (1850-1895)

Love-Songs of Childhood by Eugene Field Love-Songs of Childhood

If you've heard and loved that delightful nursery rhyme/lullaby, Wynken Blynken and Nod you'd certainly enjoy browsing through its creator Eugene Field's Love Songs of Childhood. The volume contains some forty or more poems for children, which are ideal for read aloud sessions with young folks. Parents will certainly enjoy reading them too. Most of these poems have been set to music and are ideal for family sing-alongs too. Eugene Field was a gifted humorist as well as being a talented children's writer...

Selected Lullabies by Eugene Field Selected Lullabies

The sweetest songs the world has ever heard are the lullabies that have been crooned above its cradles. The music of Beethoven and Mozart, of Mendelssohn and Schumann may perish, but so long as mothers sing their babies to sleep the melody of cradle lullabies will remain. Of all English and American writers the one who sang most often and most exquisitely these cradle songs was Eugene Field, the children’s poet. His verses not only have charm as poetry, but a distinct song quality and a naive fancy that is both childlike and appealing...

Book cover Contentment

Eugene Field, Sr. was an American writer, best known for his children's poetry and humorous essays.

By: Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)

The Lord of the Isles by Sir Walter Scott The Lord of the Isles

In stunning narrative poetry, the story begins during the time when Robert Bruce, Earl of Carrick has been hunted out of Scotland into exile by the English and their allies. Bruce returns over sea from the Island of Rachrin: but is forced to land close to hostile forces at Artonish Castle on the seacoast of Argylshire. Seeking refuge from tempestuous seas, Bruce begs shelter from Ronald, Lord of the Isles: inadvertently on the day of his marriage feast to the beautiful Edith of Lorn.Bruce's very...

Harold the Dauntless by Sir Walter Scott Harold the Dauntless

Harold the Dauntless is a rhymed, romantic, narrative-poem by Sir Walter Scott. Written in 1817, it weaves together elements of popular English legends and folklore using dramatic themes.The poem recounts the exploits and the personal spiritual journey of a doubtful knight errant - Harold the son of Danish Count Witikind: who seeks to recover his lands and wed a suitable spouse.Fire-breathing Harold is as much a stranger to love as he is addicted to dangerous adventure: yet his own confrontations with the spirit-world shake his faith in supposed omnipotence of the traditional Norse pantheon...

Translations & Imitations of German Ballads by Sir Walter Scott Translations & Imitations of German Ballads

The narrative poems in this collection are written by Sir Walter Scott - the well-known English poet and novelist. Each of these five poems are based loosely upon German ballads: rewritten in flowing English meter.The Chase - a.k.a. The Wild Huntsman - A profligate, noble-born keeper of the royal forest - avidly addicted to the pleasures of the hunt - cruelly uses and mistreats his fellow-men. One day God's messengers come to test him: executing sentence immediately in just proportion to the huntsman's responses...

The Bridal of Triermain by Sir Walter Scott The Bridal of Triermain

Scott's The Bridal of Triermain is a rhymed, romantic, narrative poem which weaves together elements of popular English legend using dramatic themes. This beautiful poem celebrates the exploits of a knight errant - Sir Roland De Vaux - as he seeks to rescue (and hopefully espouse) a beautiful maiden, Gyneth. Gyneth is the illegitimate daughter of King Arthur: doomed by Merlin 500 years previously to an enchanted sleep inside a magic castle. The enchantment can only be broken by a rescuer both brave and noble enough to overcome the temptations used successively to distract and overcome him, namely: fear, wealth, pleasure and pride.(Introduction by Godsend)

By: Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)

Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore Gitanjali

Gitanjali is a collection of 103 poems in English, largely translations by the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore. This volume became very famous in the West, and was widely translated into other languages. In England a slender volume was published in 1913, with an exhilarating preface by W. B. Yeats. In the same year, Rabindranath became the first non-European to win the Nobel prize.

Book cover First Jasmines

Rabindranath Tagore, was a Bengali polymath who reshaped Bengali literature and music, as well as Indian art with Contextual Modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Author of Gitanjali and its "profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse", he became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. In translation his poetry was viewed as spiritual and mercurial; however, his "elegant prose and magical poetry" remain largely unknown outside Bengal. Tagore introduced new prose and verse forms and the use of colloquial language into Bengali literature, thereby freeing it from traditional models based on classical Sanskrit...

By: Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

Book cover Shelley: Selected Poems and Prose

The English Romantic Period in literature featured a towering group of excellent poets: Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley and Keats. If we add in forerunners Burns and Blake, we have perhaps an unmatchable collection of writers for any era. Of these, Percy Bysshe Shelley was one of the brightest and best, coupling a giant intellect with a highly emotional and impetuous nature. He was always a champion of liberty, but was largely ignored when he tried to promote political and social reform. He...

By: Edward Lear (1812-1888)

Nonsense Songs, Stories, Botany and Alphabets by Edward Lear Nonsense Songs, Stories, Botany and Alphabets

A selection of nonsense poems, songs (not sung!), stories, and miscellaneous strangeness. The work includes the "Owl and the Pussycat" and a recipe for Amblongus Pie, which begins "Take 4 pounds (say 4½ pounds) of fresh ablongusses and put them in a small pipkin."Edward Lear was an English writer, poet, cat-lover, and illustrator (his watercolours are beautiful). This recording celebrates the 200th anniversary of Lear's birth.

By: Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)

Book cover Defeat of Youth and Other Poems

Though later known for his essays and novels, Aldous Huxley started his writing career as a poet. Published in 1918, The Defeat of Youth and Other Poems is his third compilation of poetry. The volume begins with "The Defeat of Youth", a sequence of twenty-two sonnets that explores irreconcilability of the ideal and the disappointing reality. Jerome Meckier called it “the century’s most successful sonnet sequence, better than Auden’s or Edna St. Vincent Millay’s.” In the rest of the volume, Huxley continues to explore themes started in The Burning Wheel, his first volume of poetry, including vision, blindness, and other contrasts...

By: Fujiwara no Teika (ed.)

One Hundred Verses from Old Japan by Fujiwara no Teika One Hundred Verses from Old Japan

In 12th-13th century Japan there lived a man named Fujiwara no Teika (sometimes called Sadaie), a well-regarded poet in a society that prized poetry. At one point in his life he compiled the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (often known simply as the Hyakunin Isshu), which means “A Hundred Poems by A Hundred Poets” (literally “A hundred people, one poem [each]“). This collection of a hundred poems is known to almost all Japanese, and over the years it has been translated by many different people. One of the early translators of the collection was William Porter. His translation, first published in 1909, was titled “A Hundred Verses from Old Japan”.

By: Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)

The Complete Poems of Wallace Stevens by Wallace Stevens The Complete Poems of Wallace Stevens

A collection of Wallace Stevens poems written before 1923. Stevens trained to be a lawyer. Within eleven years after this series of poems were written, he was vice-president at the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company in Connecticut. He continued to pursue a quiet life of poetry and correspondence and for the remainder of his life he nurtured his contemplative habit of observation and writing as he walked from home to work and back again. Few at Hartford knew of his world acclaim as a poet. While...

By: Publius Vergilius Maro (70 BC - 19 AD)

The Aeneid by Publius Vergilius Maro The Aeneid

The Aeneid is a Latin epic written by Virgil in the 1st century BC that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who traveled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the Romans. The first six of the poem’s twelve books tell the story of Aeneas’ wanderings from Troy to Italy, and the poem’s second half treats the Trojans’ ultimately victorious war upon the Latins, under whose name Aeneas and his Trojan followers are destined to be subsumed. The poem was commissioned from Vergil by the Emperor Augustus to glorify Rome...

The Eclogues by Publius Vergilius Maro The Eclogues

This book of poems, written between 42 en 39 BC, was a bestseller in ancient Rome, and still holds a fascination today. Held to be divinely inspired not only by the Romans themselves, but by the Medieval Catholic church, The Eclogues is one of the most beloved collections of Latin short poetry.

By: Gelett Burgess (1866-1951)

More Goops and How Not to Be Them by Gelett Burgess More Goops and How Not to Be Them

Deep in the heart of every parent is the wish, the desire, to have other adults tell us, in an unsolicited way, just how very polite one’s child is! This perhaps was even more the case in 1903, when Gelett Burgess produced his second book on the Goops. With entertaining cartoons – cariacatures of misbehaving children – he described many different breaches of tact and good manners. Burgess wrote several books of poetry on the Goops, each poem describing some significant way in which an unthoughtful or unkind child could offend polite society and often offering the hope that the listener would never behave that way...

By: Walter de la Mare

Ophelia by Walter de la Mare Ophelia

Ophelia, poem of the week for February 25, 2007; read here by twelve of our readers. Ophelia loved Hamlet, was repulsed by him, and went insane. She drowned in a stream, gathering flowers of remembrance. This is one of a number of poems that de la Mare wrote about Shakespeare characters.

By: William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)

Danse Russe by William Carlos Williams Danse Russe

Williams spent his life as a doctor practicing pediatric medicine in northern New Jersey, a few miles west of New York City. During the work day, between seeing patients, he often dashed off poems on the backs of blank prescription pads that he kept in his pocket. This particular poem was written in just such a spontaneous way, after seeing the Russian Ballet perform in Manhattan. Each of the 16 readers in this collection took the challenge to make the same kind of leap – reading it spontaneously.

Selected Early Poems of William Carlos Williams by William Carlos Williams Selected Early Poems of William Carlos Williams

Williams was born in Rutherford, New Jersey, a community near the city of Paterson. His father was an English immigrant, and his mother was born in Puerto Rico. He attended public school in Rutherford until 1897, then was sent to study at Château de Lancy near Geneva, Switzerland, the Lycée Condorcet in Paris, France, for two years and Horace Mann School in New York City. Then, in 1902, he entered the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. During his time at Penn, Williams befriended Ezra Pound, Hilda Doolittle (best known as H...

By: Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919)

Book cover Poems of Optimism

This is a volume of Poems by Ella Wheeler Wilcox. The topic of this volume is "optimism".

Book cover Poems of Purpose

This is a volume of poems by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, published in 1919.

Book cover Poems of Power

This is a volume in a series of books of poetry by Ella Wheeler Wilcox. This time, the theme is "Power".

Book cover Poems of Sentiment

This is a volume of poems by Ella Wheeler Wilcox. This time, the topic is "Sentiment".

Book cover Kingdom of Love

This is a volume of poetry by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, named after the poem 'the Kingdom of Love'.

Book cover Age of the Motored Things

LibriVox volunteers bring you 13 recordings of The Age of the Motored Things by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.This was the Fortnightly Poetry project for October 6, 2013.Ella Wheeler Wilcox was an American author and poet. Her best-known work was Poems of Passion. Her most enduring work was " Solitude", which contains the lines: "Laugh, and the world laughs with you; Weep, and you weep alone". Her autobiography, The Worlds and I, was published in 1918, a year before her death.A popular poet rather than a literary poet, in her poems she expresses sentiments of cheer and optimism in plainly written, rhyming verse...

Book cover Poems of Experience

This is another volume of Ella Wheeler Wicox's famous series. This time, the topic is Experience. The short play The New Hawaiian Girl is included in this volume.

Book cover True Culture

14 recordings of True Culture by Ella Wheeler Wilcox. This was the Weekly Poetry project for December 16, 2012. Ella Wheeler Wilcox was an American author and poet. Her best-known work was Poems of Passion. Her most enduring work was "Solitude", which contains the lines: "Laugh, and the world laughs with you; Weep, and you weep alone". Her autobiography, The Worlds and I, was published in 1918, a year before her death. (

Book cover Cuisine

Ella Wheeler Wilcox was an American author and poet, who was considered a popular poet rather than a literary poet, in her poems she expresses sentiments of cheer and optimism in plainly written, rhyming verse. Her world view is expressed in the title of her poem "Whatever Is—Is Best", suggesting an echo of Alexander Pope's "Whatever is, is right." None of Wilcox's works were included by F. O. Matthiessen in The Oxford Book of American Verse, but Hazel Felleman chose no fewer than fourteen of her poems for Best Loved Poems of the American People, while Martin Gardner selected "The Way Of The World" and "The Winds of Fate" for Best Remembered Poems...

By: Matthew Arnold

Balder Dead by Matthew Arnold Balder Dead

“Balder Dead” is a beautiful epic poem by Matthew Arnold. It draws from Norse mythology to retell the story of the the death of Odin’s son, Balder, instigated by the treacherous jealousy of Loki.

Tristram and Iseult & Sohrab and Rustum by Matthew Arnold Tristram and Iseult & Sohrab and Rustum

Tristram & Iseult is a narrative poem containing strong romantic and tragic themes: and was first published in 1852 by Matthew Arnold. This poem draws upon the Tristram and Iseult legends: which were popular with contemporary readers.The poem opens with Tristram upon his deathbed. The monologue of the dying man is shot through with sharp pangs of regret: centering upon his induced passion for Iseult of Ireland - inflamed by his unwittingly imbibing an irresistible love-potion.Before his decease, Tristram's lawful wife - Iseult of Ireland - arrives in time to share his deathbed...

By: Susan Coolidge (1835-1905)

Book cover Verses

Susan Coolidge was the pen name of Sarah Chauncey Woolsey, who is best known for her What Katy Did series. This is the first of three volumes of her verse.

By: C. S. Lewis (1898-1963)

Spirits in Bondage: a cycle of lyrics by C. S. Lewis Spirits in Bondage: a cycle of lyrics

First published in 1919 under his pseudonym Clive Hamilton, Spirits in Bondage, is also the first published book by the notorious novelist C.S. Lewis. This early piece of work represents Lewis’ youth, as it was written at a time when the author had just returned from his military service in the First World War. In addition it differentiates itself from his other works, not just in terms of style, but also in themes due to his agnostic stand at the time. Written in the form of poetry, the piece is divided into three sections of poetry, each intended to be read in chronological order to gain complete access to its themes and ideas...

By: Heinrich Hoffmann (1809-1894)

Struwwelpeter: Merry Tales and Funny Pictures by Heinrich Hoffmann Struwwelpeter: Merry Tales and Funny Pictures

Struwwelpeter (Slovenly Peter) is an illustrated collection of humorous children’s poems describing ludicrous and usually violent punishments for naughty behavior. Hoffmann, a Frankfurt physician, wanted to buy a picture book for his son for Christmas in 1844. Not impressed by what the stores had to offer, he instead bought a notebook and wrote his own stories and pictures. While Struwwelpeter is somewhat notorious for its perceived brutal treatment of the erring children, it has been influential on many later children’s books, most notably Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

By: Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885)

A Calendar of Sonnets by Helen Hunt Jackson A Calendar of Sonnets

Helen Hunt Jackson is probably most famous for her work on behalf of Native Americans’ rights. However, this short volume presents a sonnet for each month of the year, devoted simply and beautifully to the shifting wonder of nature through the seasons.

By: James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938)

Book cover Word of an Engineer

James Weldon Johnson was an American author, educator, lawyer, diplomat, songwriter, and civil rights activist. Johnson is best remembered for his leadership within the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), where he started working in 1917, being chosen as the first black executive secretary of the organization, effectively the operating officer. He was first known for his writing, which includes poems, novels, and anthologies collecting both poems and spirituals of black culture.

By: W. S. Gilbert (1836-1911)

The Bab Ballads by W. S. Gilbert The Bab Ballads

The Bab Ballads are a collection of light verse by W. S. Gilbert, illustrated with his own comic drawings. Gilbert wrote the Ballads before he became famous for his comic opera librettos with Arthur Sullivan. In writing the Bab Ballads, Gilbert developed his unique “topsy-turvy” style, where the humour was derived by setting up a ridiculous premise and working out its logical consequences, however absurd. The Ballads also reveal Gilbert’s cynical and satirical approach to humour. They became famous on their own, as well as being a source for plot elements, characters and songs that Gilbert would recycle in the Gilbert and Sullivan operas...


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