The reader's pen name - can we call it that - is "Tom O' Bedlam." His YouTube url is Spoken Verse (with the space). He basically takes many of the more memorable poems and recites them in this wonderful sonorous voice. Getintotheshade.com had linked to spoken verse for his recitation of the Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot - their poem of the week.
I loved the concept so much that I decided to take a look at the origin of the name "Tom O' Bedlam." Historically, it is a term for someone who has been released from a mental institution (for lack of a better phrase) and left to wander through the world, possibly begging. A poem written in the 1600s pays tribute to this character.
Here is Tom O' Bedlam reading an except from "Tom O' Bedlam."
Tom O' Bedlam was such a fascinating character, that references to him appear in literature on and off from the 1600s, when the first eponymous poem was written, to the present. Here is a list, taken from Wikipedia, of some of the works that the poem has inspired:
- Kenneth Patchen's surrealist novel The Journal of Albion Moonlight is loosely based on and makes frequent reference to the poem.
- Part II of Alfred Bester's novel The Stars My Destination is introduced with a section of the poem.
- Robert Silverberg's science fiction novel Tom O' Bedlam (1985) includes several quotations from the poem.
- John Brunner's 1968 novel Bedlam Planet prefaces each chapter with entire stanzas from the poem, titling the chapter after the subject of the stanza.
- Mercedes Lackey has co-authored a series of books whose titles are taken from verses of the poem.
- A character named Tom O' Bedlam is an important mentor/mystic/revolutionary in Grant Morrison's graphic novel The Invisibles.
- A College of Magics by Caroline Stevermer mentions the song often, in quotes and as the party anthem of the Monarchist party in Aravis.
- Dan Abnett's Horus Heresy novel Legion, Book 7 of the Horus Heresy Novel Series, uses the first 4 lines of the poem.
- In Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper, John Canty says of Edward "Gone stark mad as any Tom o' Bedlam!"
- Tom O'Bedlam is an important inspiration for the character of Tom Tyson in the Rynosseros cycle of Terry Dowling. Tom Tyson in these stories has emerged from the Madhouse (here, a place where the Aboriginal tribes of the future Australia have confined rebels). Tyson has no memories and the cycle largely concerns his quest to recover these lost memories.
- Parts of Derek Walcott's poem, The Bounty (1997), are addressed to "mad Tom."
- Folk rock band Steeleye Span set the poem to music on the album Please to See the King.
- Jolie Holland recorded a version of Maudlin's song titled "Mad Tom of Bedlam" on her 2004 album Escondida. Charlene Kaye also recorded this version for her The Brilliant EyesEP.
- Old Blind Dogs a traditional Scottish band recorded a version titled "Bedlam Boys" on their 1992 debut album New Tricks and a new arrangement on their 2004 album Four on the Floor.
- Timothy Taylor quotes the poem in his 2001 novel Stanley Park
To find someone "mad" enough to recite poetry on YouTube, is to have found a kindred soul. Well we need something to counter the insanity of cat videos. There will be more on madness, poetry and Bedlam, Tom O' next post!!
Have an amazing day!!