Robert Browning is the first poet ever to be recorded – and he muffs the lines of his own poem.

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robert-browningThis is the first time ever a poet’s voice was recorded. And he muffed the lines of his own poem. The recording contains the voice of the eminent poet Robert Browning (1812 – 1889), recorded in a dinner party given by Browning’s friend the artist Rudolf Lehmann, on May 6th, 1889. (Browning died the following December.)

Colonel Gouraud, the sales manager of Edison Talking machine, had brought with him a phonograph and each of the guests was invited to speak into it. Browning was reluctant, then relents. Eventually he praises this “wonderful invention” – but perhaps he’s just covering his embarrassment at forgetting the lines of his own damn poem.

He’s reading his poem “How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix,” though you may not quite catch the words (the video has subtitles to help). It’s only 50 seconds long.

(Merci to the Interesting Literature website.)


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