Listening to unknown poetry on tape is often confusing. Auden's own cover notes on W H Auden Reading His Poetry (HarperCollins, 51mins, pounds 8.99) explain why: "The formal structure of a poem is as intimately bound up with its meaning as the body is with the soul... when one listens to a recitation, it is sometimes very difficult to `hear' the structure." They help to make this 1945 recording mesmeric and compelling.

Exceptions prove the rule. Brendan Kennelly's The Man Made of Rain (Bloodaxe, 107mins, pounds 8.99) is an epic derived from a vision, while Kennelly was recovering from heart bypass surgery, of a man "who was actually raining, slant-wise and firmly in a decisive, contained way" and "took me on journeys". Woven with weather and read by Kennelly with vivacity and passion, it made me want to fly to Dublin (where he is Professor of English Literature), to sit at his feet worshipping.