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The Poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley
Morris Graves’ watercolour Bird (1950) from the Wilmington Society of Fine Arts.

The Poetry of Shelley (TC 1059), directed by Howard O Sackler, was released in 1956 (priced US$5.95), and reissued in 1962 by Caedmon (the ‘third dimension for the printed page’ according to their liner notes), who were pioneers in the audiobook format which they conceived in 1952, starting with an LP vinyl release the poems of Dylan Thomas read by the author.

The seventh entry in Caedmon’s Classics of the English Language library provides Vincent Price the opportunity to use his voice skills to give a haunting and dynamic reading of eight of Shelley’s best-known works whole, or in part. Side A features Music, when soft voices die (1824); With a Guitar, to Jane (1821); Ozymandias (1818); Prometheus Unbound (1820); To a Skylark (1820); Hymn to Intellectual Beauty (1817); and Ode to the West Wind (1819); while Side B contains a recitation of Adonaïs, Shelley’s 1921 pastoral elegy to John Keats.

Shelley (born 4 August 1792) didn’t have a long career, but the candle that burns quickly, as they say, burns bright. Before his death on 8 July 1822, at the age of 29, in a storm on the Gulf of Spezia, he managed to write such immortal works as those presented here.

‘Hearing them interpreted by Price lets you experience it in a new way. His dramatic background empowers them to bring out levels of emotion you might never have felt in your own reading; certainly Price’s world-weary yet faintly arch tone does well with Ozymandias‘ gaze-into-the-abyss evocation of hubris, impermanence, and the ultimate fate in oblivion of all things great and small. Maybe the man who starred in The Pit and the Pendulum never really strayed far from horror after all’, wrote Colin Marshall (openculture.com)

Diana Rigg once said that Vincent Price was ‘a wonderful speaker of verse’. Now you can hear for yourselves.

Adonais

Asia- From Prometheus Unbound

Hymn to Intellectual Beauty

Music, When Soft Voices Die

Ode to the West Wind

Ozymandias

To A Skylark

With a Guitar, To Jane

The Poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley

About Post Author

The Curator

Peter Fuller is a award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.
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