I first read 100 Best-Loved Poems for one of my college classes. Unlike many of the books that were required reading for my classes, this one was a quick read. However, poetry isn’t always straightforward, so when it comes to comprehension, the book actually may have been more difficult to understand than the lengthiest novels.
Mostly British poets, with some Americans thrown in, grace the pages of the compilation. They are listed chronologically from Medieval ballads to Dylan Thomas.
Walt Whitman’s “O Captain! My Captain!” is one of the featured poems. You’ll remember that poem if you’ve ever watched Dead Poet’s Society.
My favorite poem in the collection is Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven.”
Here are some of the most-loved poems in the English language, chosen not merely for their popularity, but for their literary quality as well. Dating from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, these splendid poems remain evergreen in their capacity to engage our minds and refresh our spirits.
Among them are Marlowe: “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love”; Shakespeare: “Sonnet XVIII” (“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”); Donne: “Holy Sonnet X” (“Death, be not proud”); Marvell: “To His Coy Mistress”; Wordsworth: “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”; Shelley: “Ode to the West Wind”; Longfellow: “The Children’s Hour”; Poe: “The Raven”; Tennyson: “The Charge of the Light Brigade”; Whitman: “O Captain! My Captain!”; Dickinson: “This Is My Letter to the World”; Yeats: “When You Are Old”; Frost: “The Road Not Taken”; Millay: “First Fig.”
Works by many other poets — Milton, Blake, Burns, Coleridge, Byron, Keats, Emerson, the Brownings, Hardy, Housman, Kipling, Pound, and Auden among them — are included in this treasury, a perfect companion for quiet moments of reflection.
(Source: Dover Publications)
If you love poetry, you’ll enjoy this book. Otherwise, it’s best skipped, especially if you’re like me and you prefer your poetry set to music so you can sing along to it.
Have you read 100 Best-Loved Poems? What did you think of it?
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