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The Best Poems of the English Language: From Chaucer Through Robert Frost Paperback – August 7, 2007
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About the Author
Harold Bloom is a Sterling Professor of the Humanities at Yale University and a former Charles Eliot Norton Professor at Harvard. His more than thirty books include The Best Poems of the English Language, The Art of Reading Poetry, and The Book of J. He is a MacArthur Prize Fellow, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the recipient of many awards and honorary degrees, including the Academy’s Gold Medal for Belles Lettres and Criticism, the International Prize of Catalonia, and the Alfonso Reyes Prize of Mexico.
Top Customer Reviews
But it is the poetry that is at the center of this fat volume (the last poem, by Hart Crane, ends on page 959; I don't know about the reader, but I like big collections of poetry!
In high school, we read Chaucer, and I still remember the first few lines (repeated in this work) of "The Canterbury Tales."
"Whan that Aprill with his shoures sote
The droghte of Marche hath perced to the rote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour."
Christopher Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love":
"Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods or steepy mountain yields."
There is a healthy collection of Shakespeare, but since I recently reviewed a volume of his sonnets, no need for overkill here. But the selections do represent Shakespeare's art nicely.Read more ›
From a book-lovers perspective: the pages are thick, and made with nice paper. I am reviewing the paperback edition, and even after toting it all across the United States for a year or two (I travel a fair bit) the integrity of the pages is still intact. The binding is not half bad, either. I did not make a point to break it in and I have not run into any problems as of yet. Also, (and this is a huge perk) the formatting of the pages is also very nice, making it possible to encounter these poets without having to battle with small font or bulky annotations. One will be surprised at the level to which certain poets speak to you once they have been liberated from the confines of onion-thin anthology pages and tiny, cramped fonts.
From a poetry-lovers perspective: the book attempts to be the perfect collection, and in many ways succeeds. The old favorites are all here: Chaucer (well-glossed for those unfamiliar with Middle English), Milton (with an indispensable introduction and treatment of Lycidas by Bloom), Shakespeare (surprisingly well represented) as well as some more modern favorites like Dickinson (whom I finally feel I understand after reading Bloom's introduction to her poetry) and Hart Crane (for whose poetry Bloom make a passionate appreciation) are all here. Bloom makes a valiant attempt in the modern poetry section to sort out the poetry that he thinks will ultimately last over time. Unfortunately, one wishes that he would have gone beyond the death of Robert Frost. I would really have loved to hear his more detailed appraisals of W.H.Read more ›
Professor Bloom selected as his chronological limits Geoffrey Chaucer, born around 1343 and Hart Crane born in 1899. Within these parameters is a wealth of British and American poetry to cover a wide range of moods and tastes.
There is something intrinsically personal about anthologies of poetry. Those who enjoy poetry will select favourites based on all manner of criteria. My personal criteria owe little to critical objectivity and much more to subjective assessments of evocative language and the metrics of rhythm. So, I've come to love the fierce assertion of the `Last Lines'. Here is the first verse:
`No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the world's storm-troubled sphere;
I see Heaven's glories shine,
And faith shines equal, arming me from fear.'
And also to love, for different reasons the self-doubt echoing through `The Waste Land', which starts with The Burial of the Dead:
`April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.'
It would be remiss of me not to mention some of the other poets included:
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
George Gordon, Lord Byron
Henry David Thoreau
and 100 others.
Professor Bloom has included an essay on `The Art of Reading Poetry' together with a range of headnotes on poets and poems. If you enjoy poetry anthologies, this may well be a book for your collection as well.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent representation of English poetry, though the views of the editor on the poets can be somewhat over-the-top, though usually in an amusing manner. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Amrit
A unique and most *pleasurable* anthology. Whether or not you agree with his selections, at least you know *why* he's chosen them. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Robert Tilewick
After a 35-year career of teaching every English course in the curriculum (including American lit), I've found no better representation of the breadth, depth and "character" of... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Giuseppe C.
Harold Bloom is a titan among critics, and this is a shining example of that. His choice of poets is great - a wide selection of subjects and a great background for anyone... Read morePublished on March 7, 2014 by J Henry
For some sick reason, this author feels compelled to disagree violently with almost all other literary critics. Read morePublished on February 6, 2014 by Calderham Y. Squeeb
Tony Daley, Novelist, Scripter, Poet, Short Story Writer Weighs In: The idea of art is to enrich, expand, and enlighten while performing that most difficult of functions, to... Read morePublished on January 5, 2014 by Tony Daley