I had so much fun with last week’s “The Raven” Read Off I decided to do it again.

This week I’m pitting celebrities reading Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If.”

In today’s pit we have English actor Martin Shaw reading against Dennis Lee Hopper, an American actor, filmmaker, photographer and artist.

Beautiful poem, American Hopper versus English Shaw. Who wins?

“If—” first appeared in the “Brother Square Toes” chapter of the book Rewards and Fairies, a collection of Kipling’s poetry and short-story fiction, published in 1910. In his posthumously published autobiography, Something of Myself (1937), Kipling said that, in writing the poem, he was inspired by the military actions of Leander Starr Jameson, leader of the failed Jameson Raid against the Transvaal Republic to overthrow the Boer Government of Paul Kruger.

By Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith is a third-generation Ryukyuan-American, award-winning poet, author, and publisher with 20+ years in newspapers. Publisher of Space & Time magazine (est. 1966), two-time Bram Stoker Awards® Winner, and HWA Mentor of the Year, she shares Authortunities, a free weekly calendar of author opportunities at authortunities.substack.com.

2 thoughts on ““If” Read-Off: Martin Shaw vs. Dennis Lee Hopper”
  1. My gosh! I knew Martin Shaw could do this hands down –it’s one of my all time favorite poems, and I always thought it best read by an Englishman. But hold on –Dennis Hopper’s delivery truly impressed me. Quoting a poem from memory is not easy –and making it sound like normal speech, not read as most of us read poems aloud – I didn’t think it could be done. Especially by that “has been” from Easy Rider. (I did love that movie, he was great in it). Well, I totally changed my mind. By god, Hopper did it perfectly!

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