Smarty Pants Podcast

Voicing a Legend

Jeremy Irons on reading T. S. Eliot and why poetry matters

By Stephanie Bastek | April 13, 2018
Courtesy Faber & Faber and the BBC
Courtesy Faber & Faber and the BBC

Some of our best poets have the greatest range: think of Shakespeare, in all his wild permutations, or Edna St. Vincent Millay boomeranging from heartbreak to revelry. Or T. S. Eliot, who captured our bruised souls in “The Waste Land,” itemized the neuroses of unrequited love in “Prufrock,” and then turned around and set to verse the antics of cats like Growltiger and Rumpleteazer. You could say that the same range exists in the best of actors—like Jeremy Irons, who’s played everyone from starry-eyed Charles Ryder to Humbert Humbert himself. Irons’s iconic voice has lent itself to animated lions and audiobooks before, but now, he joins us to talk about perhaps his most ambitious project yet: narrating the poems of T. S. Eliot.

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Our theme music was composed by Nathan Prillaman. Excerpt of “The Rum Tum Tugger” used courtesy the BBC, which owns the production copyright.

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