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W. H. Auden's Book of Light Verse (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – July 31, 2004
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"This is one of the most delightful anthologies in English."
— The Listener
"One of the liveliest and most original anthologies ever compiled."
— Times Literary Supplement
About the Author
W.H. Auden (1907–1973) was an English poet, playwright, and essayist who lived and worked in the United States for much of the second half of his life. His work, from his early strictly metered verse, and plays written in collaboration with Christopher Isherwood, to his later dense poems and penetrating essays, represents one of the major achievements of twentieth-century literature.
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Top Customer Reviews
It is rather a collection of poetry of popular verse, beginning with poems in Middle English ("Sitteth alle stile and herkneth to me ! / the kyng of Alemaignr, bi mi leaute,") and carrying through to Auden's contemporaries ("Spirits of well-shot woodcock, partridge, snipe / Flutter and bear him up the Norfolk sky:"). Representing many forms, from nursery rhymes (the original "Jack and Gill went up the Hill" is in here -- Gil, who knew it was Gil) to elegies to limericks to odes, and many voices (some American, Irish and Scottish, though mostly British) it is a thorough collection.
And therein lies my problem with it. As a collection, I found myself thumbing through, looking at particular pieces and savoring them, and skipping others completely. It is collection which, to me, is often excellent, and occasionally horrible.
One of my favorite pieces (which I have marked since I am sure to read and re-read it) is "The Careless Gallant" by Thomas Jordon. It begins "Let us drink and be merry, dance, joke, and rejoice, / With claret and sherry, thorbo and voice ... In frolics dispose your pounds, shillings, and pence / For we shall be nothing a hundred years hence."
Another seemed particularly relevant to our current time. John Gay's "Ode for the New Year" makes fun of King George, and I drew some inspiration from it, and wrote my own re-interpretation of this poem, titled "Ode for a Second Inauguration." Much of the piece is based on the original John Gay piece -- grab the original to compare and see for yourself.
So, in short, a worthwhile piece to add to a poetry collection, but not one to start your library.