Thursday, May 3, 2012

Poetry: A Guide on Where to Start



1. G.K. Chesterton--start with the "Ballad of the White Horse" and "Lepanto" but don't miss his short, humorous verse and his Christmas poems.
2. Hilaire Belloc--almost all of his poetry is worth reading, but especially his traveling verses.
3. Sir Walter Scott--nothing beats his great epics like "The Lady of the Lake."
4. Arthur Quiller-Couch--again, almost everything from Q is worth careful reading, but especially his local sea town tales and his verse parodies.
5. Alfred Noyes--you'll especially want to read his epics like "The Highwayman."
6. Q's edition of the "Oxford Book of English Verse" must not be missed (but make sure it's Q's and not one of the wretched modern updates).
7. And of course, Francis Palgrave's "Golden Treasury" is a classic collection.
8. Louis Untermeyer's wonderful anthology, "This Singing World," was my favorite for years and years.
9. "The Collected Poetry" of T.S. Eliot is not to be missed.
10. All of J.R.R. Tolkien's poetry is not available in a single volume, but whenever you can find collected anthologies, grab them--works like "Tom Bombadil" and "The Lays of Beleriand" are stunningly beautiful.
11. The various collections of verse from C.S. Lewis are also delightful--but, be sure to get an edition with some of his longer, more complex Medieval reflections.

9 comments:

Denise4kids said...

Very timely and much appreciated!

Ben said...

What? No Robert Frost? None of the Fugitive Poets? I refuse to speak to you...until I see you in Dallas next month. Shocked to see you becoming such a controversialist.

George Grant said...

Well Ben, I only had room for eleven! And boundaries are good! Right? Like the "good walls that make for good neighbors." Then again, it may have just been a "fog that crept in on little cat feet" into my consciousness--or maybe it was the "women on the porch" who distracted me.

George Grant said...

Ben, I forgot to mention that Frost and a couple of the Agrarians are represented in the Untermeyer anthology! So, there!

Ben said...

I can tell from the defensiveness of your comments that I struck a tender nerve.
Louis Untermeyer is one of the most forgotten literary guys of the 20th Century, along with Stephen Vincent Benet.
And the Jesse Stuart Foundation has recently reprinted Stuart's Man With a Bull Tongue Plow. It is the American version of Virgil's Georgics.

Ben said...

I can tell from the defensiveness of your comments that I struck a tender nerve.
Louis Untermeyer is one of the most forgotten literary guys of the 20th Century, along with Stephen Vincent Benet.
And the Jesse Stuart Foundation has recently reprinted Stuart's Man With a Bull Tongue Plow. It is the American version of Virgil's Georgics.

Ben said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Suzannah said...

I've long suspected that the Lays of Beleriand are great poetry, but never heard anyone taking them seriously before!

Caleb said...

Such a great list, Mr. Grant. Poetry is something more people need include in their life and the life of their families. I've got one of those massage volumes of collected poetry that's become a treasure to me. And I'll be sure to reference your list here from time to time.

A couple posts up Louis Untermeyer was mentioned. I've enjoyed his wonderful collection of Frost poems for years now. He included some wonderful intros and insights to many of the poems that certainly have helped me connect with Frost's work. Highly recommend to all.