This collection of 41 poems is read by an exceptional group of British actors, including Lesser, Simon Russell-Beale, Timothy West, Katinka Wolf, Roy McMillan, and Rachel Bavidge. The readings range from dramatic and sentimental to gentle and ironically gruesome. Five favorite Lewis Carroll poems, beginning with “The Lobster Quadrille,” highlight the author’s clever wordplay, with David Timson’s shivering narration of “Jabberwocky” closing out the Carroll selections. Remaining titles range from familiar nursery rhymes (“Two Little Kittens”) to long ballads (“The Pied Piper of Hamelin”). Lesser brings a masterly bluff to his reading of the humorous “Colonel Fazackerly,” and the dramatic diversity in William Blake’s “The Tyger” and Rudyard Kipling’s “If” prove that poetry is best heard aloud. The witty readings of Hilaire Belloc’s cautionary tales “Henry King” and “Matilda” are quite memorable. Lesser feelingly elicits a shudder in his rendition of Walter de la Mare’s ghostly “The Listeners.” Four classical music interludes add atmosphere to this recommended title for group or solo listening.
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