Literary Playlist

The world of music and language, literature, poetry, books share intimate connections. In the process of reading and writing, we can often be reminded of music and songs. Exploring these connections, we have compiled for you a literary playlist consisting of a few songs that remind us of writers, of their works, and add to our own experiences as readers and writers. Take a look and give these a listen!

Shalott by Emilie Autumn

I love how the song retells Tennyson’s famous poem from the point-of-view of the Lady of the tower herself, and how it gives back some semblance of agency to her– as though she’s talking back to the poet, the poem and the Victorian tradition and her reply is her only form of rebellion.


Queen of Peace by Florence + The Machine

Although this song is about a king who goes mad with suffering after his only son is lost in a battle, it has always reminded me of King Lear. The tale of grief making a king realize that he’s just a man paints a vivid picture of Lear reuniting with Cordelia, only to be parted from her once again.


AAJ JANE KI ZID NA KARO by Farida Khanum 

The song was originally a nazm written by Fayyaz Hashmi, a Pakistani poet. And in Farida Khanum’s voice, of course, there is a different texture, a different poetics I find at work. For some reason, I think that this song to be has always expressed the journey or passage of time, age, history in romantic, personal, political, philosophical ways with a remarkable simplicity. I love this version by Coke Studio Pakistan the most, and it always reminds me not just of this link between music and language and the changing, different bodies of the two, but also the beautiful poem by Akhil Katyal that we published in Inklette too, where he writes about Farida Khanum: “she does not hide the age / in her voice.” This makes me tear up, and I think his poem is a perfect afterword for the song itself. 


The Latin One by 10,000 Maniacs 

This is directly inspired by Wilfred Owen’s Dolce et Decorum Est. It changes some of the words, but still captures the horrific and more complicated aspects of war.

Lucy by the The Divine Comedy

Lucy by The Divine Comedy is an awesome musical version of William Wordsworth’s poem of the same name.

Meet Me at the Cemetery by The Smiths

And to go along with my moody theme, I have always loved Meet Me at the Cemetery Gates by the Smiths. I love the literary references, and I think Oscar Wilde would approve of it.


RIVERMAN by Nick Drake 

It’s pure poetry strummed over the guitar in an odd 5/4 time signature. It has been suggested by Drake’s friends from Cambridge University that William Wordsworth’s lyrical poem, Idiot Boy served as his source of inspiration. For me, the song underscores an existential dread: “Betty said she prayed today / For the sky to blow away / Or maybe stay / She wasn’t sure.” It transports me to a grassy meadow somewhere in Virginia, sitting under a tree and reading poetry by A. E. Housman, John Keats and, of course, Wordsworth. I think the words of Nick Drake should be read and listened to under trees, too.

– Maria Prudente, BLOG EDITOR

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