Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Return of Tom O' Bedlam

Today again, I found myself without an idea for a post. This would be #85 I think, in the challenge of doing 365 and not missing a beat - err day. So I started cruising around, looking for some inspiration. At one point, I realized that I hadn't fully explored a website www.getintotheshade.com, that I had stumbled on a while ago. I went back to take a look and found an interesting link to a person on YouTube who reads poetry.

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:
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!!


  1. What an amazing poet. Bedlam was an instution in London for anyone who was a bit different in the old days of long skirts. They weren't necessarily mad. They might have been slow or disabled or their family wanted to lock them up.