Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

Photo credit: <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeremypullen/3097591984/'>Jeremy Pullen</a>

Photo credit: Jeremy Pullen


Season 19: Episode 32

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

Later on the show, the writer Barbara Ehrenreich has made a career of revealing the facts
behind the facade.
For her bestselling book Nickle and Dimed, she worked undercover on a
series of minimum-wage jobs to report on what life is like when you're
just trying to make ends meet.
Her book, Bright-sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America
took on the relentlessly positive self-help industry. But Ehrenreich's new book, Living With a Wild God, delivers more questions than answers. It's
the story of the mystical experiences she has had since she was a

Book Excerpt:

Living With a Wild God

The folder contains a kind of journal, though it is really only an intermittent series of entries, each on a separate piece of paper, from the years 1956 to 1966, and mostly from the first three of those years, starting when I was 14. What impelled me to hold it back from the tomb that was about to swallow all the other paper remnants of my life was the prospect of mortality--though not my own mortality as a 59-year old woman with a full, productive life behind her. In fact, if you're not prepared to die when you're almost 60, then I would say you've been falling down on your philosophical responsibilities as a grown-up human being. As for the manner of my death, I would have preferred to start swimming out across the Gulf at dusk, which is shark feeding time, and was still hoping to squeeze that in, should the cancer take a turn for the worse.

Excerpted from the book LIVING WITH A WILD GOD: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth about Everything by Barbara Ehrenreich. Copyright © 2014 by Barbara Ehrenreich. Reprinted with permission of Twelve/Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.

Finally, Hollywood has firmly branded 2014 as the year of the bible.There's Russell Crowe in the big-budget epic Noah. Meanwhile the latest Jesus
bio-pic, Son of God, has pulled in more than sixty-million dollars.
And coming soon, it's Moses as you've never seen him before: Exodus
starring Christian Bale

You might
think all this big-screen Bible stuff would be pleasing to Christian
film critic Jeffrey Overstreet. But Jeffrey`s plot-line isn't that

Even though Overstreet was a film reviewer for Christianity Today
for 10 years, he's wary of the way Hollywood is getting

Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Submission Policy

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.