1. Charles Dance reads for the BBC Winter Olympics

I treated myself to an episode of Game Of Thrones earlier today and just the sound of Charles Dance’s (Tywin Lannister) gravelly voice put me in mind of this marvellous poetry inspired advert for the BBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics three years ago.

I am the dreadful menace
The one whose will is done
The haunting chill upon your neck
I am the conundrum
I will summon armies
Of wind and rain and snow
I made the black cloud overhead
The ice, like glass, below
Not you, nor any other
Can fathom what is nigh
I will tell you when to jump
And I’ll dictate how high
The ones that came before you
Stood strong and tall and brave
But I stole those dreams away
Those dreams could not be saved
But now you stand before me
Devoid of all dismay
Could it be, just maybe
I’ll let you have your day?

The origins of this poem as far as I can see are unknown. It appears to have been written especially for this advertisement.

2. Team Canada promoted the same Olympics with a reading of The Winter Spirit by Helen Fairbairn

Not to be outdone, the Canadians also advertised their upcoming coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics with some carefully selected poetry. In this advert renowned free-style skier, Jean-Luc Brassard, read a portion of Helen Fairbairn’s The Winter Spirit. The poem depicts a characterisation of the season of winter walking across the land.

Beneath, his flying footsteps froze the ground;
And with his garments’ rustling fell the snow;
His lightest touch made icicles abound;
His breath, as when the keenest north winds blow.

He paused above the river, dull and gray,
Turbid and chafing with a restless pain,
And soon in icy quietness it lay,
Bound, bank to bank, within his arctic chain.

3. Bryan Cranston reads Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Ozymandias

This poem is one of my all time favourites and made it onto my list when I wrote about ten poems to celebrate National Poetry Day a few months ago. Bryan Cranston is an excellent reader too. A couple of years ago, I listened to an Tim O’Brien audiobook titled The Things They Carried and I found his performance captivating.

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Special thanks

Special thanks to Peter Armenti for his post ‘Olympic Promotional Ads Inspire through Poetry‘ which pointed me in the direction of the Team Canada and Bryan Cranston poems. His full article is worth a read so if you like what you have seen here, have a look. The full link is: http://blogs.loc.gov/catbird/2014/02/olympic-promotional-ads-inspire-through-poetry/