You will have heard the phrase: “It’s enough to make a grown man cry.” Ben and Anthony Holden are a father/son duo who did a kind of ‘survey’ of men-who-cry over poetry.
The idea was to ask some very famous men whether there is a poem they
cannot read without breaking down.
For more on this story and more, including an excerpt from Barbara Ehrenreich’s new book…
The Holden duo told their contributors – all rather famous men – that it could be any poem at all, from Keats to a favourite nursery rhyme. What themes would emerge? Would it be thoughts of mortality? The carnage of war? Watching your child grow up and leave the nest?
The book is called Poems That Make Grown Men Cry: 100 Men on the Words that Move Them.
Here are some of the Men-Who-Cry, and the poems they chose:
Frank Kermode – “Unfinished Poem” by Philip Larkin
Richard Curtis – “A Call” by Seamus Heaney
Christopher Hitchens – “Dulce et Decorum Est” by Wilfred Owen
Patrick Stewart – “God’s World” by Edna St. Vincent Millay
J.J. Abrams – “The Lanyard” by Billy Collins
Seamus Heaney – “The Voice” by Thomas Hardy
Richard Dawkins and Andrew Motion – “Last Poems: XL” by A.E. Housman
Robert Fisk and Julian Fellowes – “Remember” by Christina Rossetti
David Puttnam and Salil Shetty – “Let My Country Awake” by Rabindranath Tagore
Nick Cave – “The Widower in the Country” by Les Murray
Jack Mapanje – “The Book Burnings” by Bertolt Brecht
Anthony Holden (co-editor) – “A Good-Morrow” by John Donne
Ben Holden (co-editor) – “Those Who Are Near Me Do Not Know” by Rabindranath Tagore
Listen to the interview here.