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Elevate Your Spotify Playlists With Recordings of Robert Frost

While you’ve almost certainly read the work of American poet Robert Frost, hearing it is an entirely different experience—particularly if read by the author himself.

Two collections of such readings are now available on Spotify, and they shed new light on those famous verses. Smithsonian reports that one of these anthologies, Robert Frost Reading His Own Poems, is from The National Council of Teachers of English and was created in 1951, while the other, Robert Frost Reads His Poetry, comes from Harper Audio and was recorded in 1956.

Some of the more popular pieces in the compilation include "Fire and Ice," "Birches," “Mending Wall,” “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” “After Apple Picking,” and, perhaps most notably, “The Road Not Taken," which for many readers might just be the best chance to revisit and reconsider a familiar work. In their write-up on the aural anthologies, Open Culture cited a piece by David Orr for The Paris Review on "The Road Not Taken" called “The Most Misread Poem in America.” “The poem isn’t a salute to can-do individualism," Orr writes, "it’s a commentary on the self-deception we practice when constructing the story of our own lives.”

Even if you’re not looking to dissect the works (though it being Frost, that’s worth your time too), hearing the author deliver his poems is a delightful experience. He brings them to life with a songlike gravitas and a forward momentum that belies the contemplative nature of poetry itself. It's well worth a listen.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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science
This Interactive Periodic Table Features a Haiku for Each Element
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iStock

Haikus, Japanese poems that follow a five syllable/seven syllable/five syllable line structure, traditionally highlight pieces of the natural world. That makes the periodic table of elements a perfect fit for this tricky form of verse.

Writing in Science, fantasy/sci-fi author Mary Soon Lee composed 119 haikus, one for each chemical element plus one for the yet-to-be-synthesized element 119. Just scroll over each element in the interactive periodic table to see a new verse.

Some poems are straight-forward summaries of their everyday applications. The haiku for lithium, for example, reads:

Lighter than water,
empower my phone, my car.
Banish depression.

Others, like this poem for aluminum, are a little more tongue-in-cheek:

Spent Kindergarten
endless writing your name.
One i or two i's?

Whether you're looking for an out-of-the-box way to memorize the elements or are just in the mood for some creative poetry, Lee's haiku table makes for a fun read. Here are some samples of her work for your reading pleasure:

Barium

Let those enduring
your enemas remember
fireworks' green splendor.

Radium

Licked by the women
painting luminous watches.
How much time stolen?

Osmium

Humiliated
underneath the dunce's cap.
Densest in the class.

Carbon

Show-stealing diva,
throw yourself at anyone,
decked out in diamonds.

[h/t Science]

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Courtesy The Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
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literature
New Poetry by Sylvia Plath Discovered in Her Archives
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Courtesy The Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana

Several previously unknown poems by Sylvia Plath have been discovered hidden in the back of one of her notebooks, according to The Guardian. Researchers working on a new book on the poet came upon a piece of carbon paper that contained two of Plath’s poems, and potentially a third, although that one has not been verified.

Plath’s papers are held at the Lilly Library at Indiana University Bloomington, where the notebook was found. On the same carbon paper as the newly discovered poems, Plath had also typed the table of contents for a poetry collection by her husband, Ted Hughes. Plath had typed up two published poems, “The Shrike” and “Natural History,” as well as the two unpublished ones.

Using Photoshop, Plath scholar Peter K. Steinberg deciphered “To a Refractory Santa Claus,” a poem about yearning for the fair weather of Spain during a cold English winter. (Plath and Hughes honeymooned on the eastern coast of Spain.) “Although they said the poem was inferior to Plath’s later work, the academics described the imagery in the poem as ‘spectacular’,” according to The Guardian. The second poem, “Megrims,” is a speech by a paranoid patient directed to a doctor. The third poem is likely Plath’s, but has not yet been deciphered.

Steinberg’s book with fellow Plath researcher Gail Crowther, These Ghostly Archives, reveals these and other new discoveries about the poet, who died in 1963. It comes out in October.

[h/t The Guardian]

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