Thursday, May 19, 2011

This is just to say...

            that this anthology
            is longer
            than I had

            and which
you were probably
hoping you could read
over breakfast

            Forgive me
            my comments are endless
            so long

            and so serious  

A big thank you to those who have followed this series of close readings of poems on the blog, as well as those who may have dipped in on occasion.

Naturally, there were many other poems I would have liked to have written about, but to take this further might try even a generous blog readers patience. It’s interesting to look back and see what poems I found myself looking at. Obviously, I decided to write about 20th century poetry and not the work of earlier poets or, indeed, my peers. I am quite surprised at the amount of mid-century American poems here. I also think that British poetry is quite under-represented in this list. (One of the first poetry anthologies I came across was Edward Lucie-Smith’s British Poetry Since 1945 which was also a very formative experience.) I'm also mindful that the list isn't entirely balanced in terms of either traditions and gender, though I hope this doesn't reflect anything ingrained. These are simply poems that made an impact on me along the way.

In any case, here are some of the poets and poems I would loved to have analysed and shared, but didn’t get around to or was too intimidated by. Here they are:

T.S. Eliot                                ‘Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’
e.e. cummings                        ‘my sweet old etcetera’
W.H Auden                             ‘On This Island’                     
Keith Douglas                         ‘Vergissmeinnicht’
Elizabeth Bishop                     ‘Crusoe in England’
W.D. Snodgrass                      ‘Heart’s Needle’
Lawrence Ferlinghetti               ‘Constantly Risking Absurdity’
Edward Lucie-Smith                 ‘Lovers’
Philip Larkin                             ‘High Windows’
Gwyneth Lewis                        ‘Zero Gravity’
Brendan Kennelly                     ‘We Are Living’
Thomas Kinsella                       ‘Phoenix Park’
Guillevic                                   from ‘Carnac’
John Montague                        ‘Moortown Manor’
Patrick Galvin                          ‘The Kings Are Out’
Carol Ann Duffy                       ‘Telegrams’
Charles Simic                           ‘Euclid Avenue’
Tony Harrison                           ‘V’
Paula Meehan                          ‘Take a Breath. Hold It. Let it Go’

There are, of course, many more. I’m sure you could compile your own, and entirely different, list!


  1. Fascinating list. I'm ashamed to say there are more than a few on it that I don't know. All this reminds me of Jane Smiley's book "13 Ways of Looking at a Novel." Do you know it? You could do a similar thing with poetry -- if you felt like writing that sort of thing some day. She lists 100 "important" novels and critiques in an admittedly very subjective way why she likes or doesn't like them. And in so doing, she reminds herself "how to" write a novel. Ooh...maybe a groupnof us could write it, each taking a different poem...oh no - I must stop.....

  2. Thanks, Sue. I'm sure if you compiled a list I wouldn't know most of them. Let's face it, there are a lot of poems in the world!

    Ruth Padel published a book called '52 Ways of Looking at Poem' which I'm guessing was originally a newspaper column. Personally, her readings reminded me of how poetry was taught at school so it didn't grab me.

    Smiley's book sounds fascinating. Another great one on prose is David Lodge's 'The Art of Fiction' which, like Padel's, is 52 short chapters looking at various aspects of the novel. Great stuff in there.