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Seven Centuries of Poetry in English

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First published in 1987


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First published in 1987

30 review for Seven Centuries of Poetry in English

  1. 5 out of 5

    David Sarkies

    A great collection of English poems 4 March 2015 Well, this was a pretty thick book, and as you can probably tell from my start and finish dates, it took me quite a while to get through it. Mind you, there is only so much poetry that I can really take in one sitting, so much of the time this book was sitting on my bedside table waiting for when I would look at it and say to myself 'gee, I've got to get through this book so that I can then start on my next really, really thick book that is going t A great collection of English poems 4 March 2015 Well, this was a pretty thick book, and as you can probably tell from my start and finish dates, it took me quite a while to get through it. Mind you, there is only so much poetry that I can really take in one sitting, so much of the time this book was sitting on my bedside table waiting for when I would look at it and say to myself 'gee, I've got to get through this book so that I can then start on my next really, really thick book that is going to take me months too read because I really don't want to read it in one go'. Anyway, the one thing that struck me is that the book seemed to open with poems that made no sense and closed with poems that made no sense. Here is an example: Homecomings 1979 Fetch me the sand martin skimming and veering breast to breast with himself in the clouds in the river At the worn mouth of the hole flight after flight after flight the swoop of his wings gloved and kissed home. A glottal stillness. An eardrum. Far in, feather brains tickled in silenced a silence of water-slide lipping in bank. Mould my shoulders inward to you. Occlude me. Be damp clapy pouting. Let me listen under your eaves. Okay, that is probably not being all that fair to Saemus Heaney, and I am sure you can make sense of that poem if you study it for long enough. To be honest with you, I really don't have all that much time to really study a poem to the point that I go 'ahh, so that's what he means!'. Anyway, here is a poem that appeared at the end of this book: Sumer is icumen in mid 13th Century Sumer is icumen in: Lhude sing cuccu. Groweth sed and bloweth meddling And springeth the wde nu. Sing cuccu. Awe bleteth after lomb, Lhouth after calve cu, Bulluc sterteth, bucke verteth. Murie sing cuccu. Cuccu, cuccu, Wel singes thu cuccu. Ne swik thu naver nu. Sing cuccu nu, sing cuccu. Sing cuccu, sing cuccu nu. Okay, once again, to be fair on the anonymous author of this poem, he (or she - we can't be sexist) did write it in the middle of the 13th century, and they really didn't speak the same English that we do now (or they probably did but they hadn't exactly invented spelling). Still, reading some of these really old poems (such as The Canterbury Tales) can really do your head in – in fact I suspect you can't actually speed read them because, well, they didn't have any consistent form of spelling. At least the version of The Canterbury Tales that happens to be sitting on my 'Too Read' shelf is a modern English translation. Mind you, after reading that poem it reminded me of a creative piece that I wrote in my English class back in high school. My English teacher wanted me to write something that didn't involve science fiction or fantasy, and didn't have anything to do with Megadeth, so I wrote a short story, in the tradition of Jane Austen, about an English nobleman chatting up some woman in the woods (the story is called 'Spring in Bloom' and I actually still have a copy of it). However, to give the story a bit of flavour I decided to have all of my verbs end in 'eth'. After my English teacher picked himself off the floor, he pointed out to me that 1) they did not speak like that in 18th Century England, and 2) I really don't know how to write in Middle English. As for poetry, I've tried a hand at it myself. Here's a poem I wrote about the Global Financial Crisis (or at least a part of it because it appears that I have misplaced the completed poem): Subprime – The Poem Some people do silly things Urserers the lot of them Borrowing money they cannot afford Paying back exorbitant debts Ruining their livelihoods Indebtedness abounds Money that is not theirs Earning too little Manipulating their worth Overspending Resulting in a world wide crisis Tumbling stock markets Gold is on the up America is to blame George Bush tries to solve Everybody is affected Citibank makes a massive loss Recession on the horizon Inflationary pressures affect us all Sub-prime is the latest catchword ... I've written other poems but unfortunately they have been lost to the ravages of time (or at least are on a CD somewhere in my parent's back shed). Well, I better say a few words about this book though because I seem to be carrying on about poems in general. Well, it does give a pretty good overview of English poetry and it does contain examples of poems from pretty much all of the famous (and not so famous) poets. This was actually recommended reading for my English I course (though we looked at like seven poems in the entire subject). My biggest gripe was that it starts in the 20th century and works its way back, well, seven centuries. This, to me, does not allow us to follow the development of the English poetic form. However, at the beginning the editors are bringing in poems from all over the English speaking world, though once you hit the 18th century the focus pretty much falls on England. It is interesting to see how the poetic form differs across the English speaking world in the modern age. As a book, it is a really great sample of the great poets of the English world. So, I think I will finish it off with a rather famous poem by a rather famous poet: The Tyger Tyger Tyger, burning bright, In the forests of the night; What immortal hand or eye, Could frame thy fearful summetry? In what distant deeps or skies, Burnt the fire of thine eyes? On what wings dare he aspire? What the hand, dare sieze the fire? And what shoulder, & what art, Could twist the sinews of thy heart? And when thy heart begins to beat, What dread hand? & what dread feet? What the hammer? What the chain, Is what furnace was thy brain? What the anvil? What dread grasp, Date its deadly terrors grasp! When the stars threw down their spears And water'd heaven with their tears: Did he smile his work to see? Did he who made the lamb make thee? Tyger Tyger burning bright, In the forests of the night: What immortal hand or eye, Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

  2. 5 out of 5

    Len Carter

    If you’re a poetry fan you need to read this book, a historical collection of poetry in one place. I have read this alongside other selected readings of Renaissance poetry, Victorian poetry, and Modernist poetry, (Katherine Mansfield ‘The Garden Party and other Stories’, 1922). The difference of poems like ‘Drifters’, ‘If I had a gun’. I have learnt more about literature, criticism, and culture, and the vast history of poetic structure, prose, sonnets, and social culture that reflects the writin If you’re a poetry fan you need to read this book, a historical collection of poetry in one place. I have read this alongside other selected readings of Renaissance poetry, Victorian poetry, and Modernist poetry, (Katherine Mansfield ‘The Garden Party and other Stories’, 1922). The difference of poems like ‘Drifters’, ‘If I had a gun’. I have learnt more about literature, criticism, and culture, and the vast history of poetic structure, prose, sonnets, and social culture that reflects the writings of the times they were written, and as they do today. E.g. in the past through the industrial revolution ('The Great Expedition' 1851), and the hypocrisy of Victorian times, its social structure, (Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 1850), and Queen Victoria's own perceptions, morals and values-when reading, and writing was the form of communication that sparked many debates (e.g. religion debates by Charles Lyell, 'Principles of Geology' in 1833 and Charles Darwin’s 'Origin of Species' in 1859, sparking atheism) and many other writings. Adjustments were made long before postmodernism arrived, and I can see how lessons were learnt, weary from the demise of the Greeks and Romans where many theories and philosophies originated from great thinkers like Aristotle and the imbalance: ‘I grieve and dare not show my discontent’, by Queen Elizabeth I, 1823), and of capitalism, post-feudalism; a time of loss and gain for others. I have learnt to nurture and am learning to write with more theory and thought in mind and aware of how other poets have formed theme, style, meaning, and content trying not to 'rhyme without reason'; strategies for the interpretation of poetry. Although I'm a fan of the Renaissance and Romanticism I have found great insight, intelligence, and vision here with all these works. It's never too late to learn, and this collection is an excellent addition and reference to any scholar’s library, so much here. Edited by John Leonard and from the Oxford University Press. Len Carter 12th Nov 2009

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ernest

    A thorough survey of English language poetry. I mined it for trial Paper Ones, figuring it will give the students a fairly good grounding in the canonical (again, English speaking) poetry if the last even centuries, for what it is worth. They might even like a few of the poems...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Darkpool

    A required text for the English lit paper I did in the last year of my degree, when I'd finally made my peace with the idea of studying English. This book is a treasured resource which I have dipped into over and over again in the intervening years. A required text for the English lit paper I did in the last year of my degree, when I'd finally made my peace with the idea of studying English. This book is a treasured resource which I have dipped into over and over again in the intervening years.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea M

    I was new to poetry when I bought this book. I could count on one hand the number of poems that I've read outside of English classes. For months, it sat untouched on my bookshelf, but one day I decided that I should really finish this book and committed myself to reading at least two pages every day before bed. As unfamiliar with poetry as I was, I really liked the reverse chronological order of the book. I think I would probably have given up in the first week if I had to start from Canterbury I was new to poetry when I bought this book. I could count on one hand the number of poems that I've read outside of English classes. For months, it sat untouched on my bookshelf, but one day I decided that I should really finish this book and committed myself to reading at least two pages every day before bed. As unfamiliar with poetry as I was, I really liked the reverse chronological order of the book. I think I would probably have given up in the first week if I had to start from Canterbury Tales instead of easing into it through modern poems. I'm very picky about books I buy - I almost never buy a book unless I've borrowed it from the library before and loved it. But this book was meant to be bought, not borrowed. With library books, you can't mark your favourite poems with sticky notes. Obviously there were some poets and poems that I wish were included - you can't cover 700 years of poetry without missing some great ones - but overall, this was a great introduction to the world of poetry.

  6. 4 out of 5

    May

    hi

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sophia McQuillan

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kristina

  10. 4 out of 5

    Peter

  11. 4 out of 5

    Peta Milan

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bron

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  14. 4 out of 5

    Seth Merlo

  15. 5 out of 5

    Katie

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kate Guest

  17. 5 out of 5

    Suzie

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sonia Belle

  19. 4 out of 5

    Pablo Zula

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bec

  21. 4 out of 5

    Luke

  22. 5 out of 5

    Georgia

  23. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  24. 4 out of 5

    Greg

  25. 5 out of 5

    Colin Parton

  26. 5 out of 5

    H H

  27. 5 out of 5

    Luke

  28. 4 out of 5

    Keith Conway

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Good

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