(From his recent interview with Caroline Kennedy about her new book, “Poems to Learn by Heart.”)
Opening lines of Kubla Khan, by Samuel Coleridge:
“In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.”
Colbert, being the mighty Tolkien nerd that he is, couldn’t resist slipping in the following, from the hobbits’ encounter with Tom Bombadil in the Fellowship of the Ring. (Peter Jackson omitted this episode from the film, which by all accounts was a sound directorial decision. )
“Oh slender as a willow-wand! O clearer than clear water!
O reed by the living pool! Fair river-daughter!
O spring-time and summer-time, and spring again after!
O wind on the waterfall, and the leaves’ laughter!”
Lastly, e.e. cummings. This poem is not nearly as exciting in print as it was delivered by Colbert:
“mr youse needn’t be so spry
concernin questions arty
each has his tastes but as for i
i likes a certain party
gimme the he-man’s solid bliss
for youse ideas i’ll match youse
a pretty girl who naked is
is worth a million statues”
― e.e. cummings