3BoT Vol. 10: My Three Favorite Poets
Thursday, August 2, 2012Tweet
The first Thursday of every month, I share three related book recommendations with you. You are invited to link up at the end of the post with three recommendations of your own! Click here for more info about Three Books on Thursday.
I am breaking tradition this month because I wanted to do a poetry theme, but I discovered that I couldn't recommend just one book of poetry for each of my favorite poets. Without having read every book of poetry by, for example, Robert Frost, I couldn't tell you definitively which one is the best or my favorite. Just that I like his poetry.
I will, however, tell you which books introduced me to each poet, so you have a place to start, if you like. And I won't spend a bunch of time here extolling the greatness of poetry; I'll just say that, if you haven't read much poetry before, give these folks a try.
Without further ado, my three favorite poets:
I read Frost's In the Clearing collection in middle school, and I think what I liked so much was that I could understand the poems. His words paint pictures of scenes from nature and everyday life, and they're not super-dense, but they do have layers of meaning that you can dig into. So I don't have to struggle to figure out what the heck is going on, but I'm left with things to think about. A good example is "In a Glass of Cider," which on the surface is about being a bit of sentiment riding on a rising bubble in cider, but which has a lot more meaning about the highs and lows of life. Of course, Frost's most famous poem is probably "The Road Not Taken," and most people know the closing lines without having studied the entire poem and realizing just how tricky it is. He's pretty clever.
If you've ever heard, "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways," you've had an introduction to Elizabeth Barrett Browning. That is from Sonnet 43 of her Sonnets from the Portuguese, arguably her most well-known collection. My personal favorite has always been Sonnet 14, which essentially says that if you love someone for how they look or some mannerism they have, you may be disappointed if they change down the road. For me, this ties into how marriage made my love for Mike unconditional. I find her poetry absolutely lyrical, as well as thought-provoking and romantic. Not all her poems are love poems for her husband; others include a poem about her dog ("To Flush") and one about the gift of sleep ("The Sleep") that will make you want to close your eyes and float away on a cloud of iambic quadrameter.
I grew up with Shel Silverstein's poetry, and I'm grateful for that. His poems are cute, funny, and fanciful (as are the accompanying illustrations), but he also perfectly captures many moments of everyday life. I love that many end with a twist or punch line of some sort. Although his poetry is aimed at kids and doesn't have the deep layers of meaning of Frost and Barrett Browning, he still ranks up there for me because some of the images his poems evoke have stayed with me for, literally, decades. When we were moving in 104 degree weather, I kept thinking about how I'd probably still be hot if I stripped all the way down to my bones ("It's Hot!"). Where the Sidewalk Ends was his first collection, but A Light in the Attic and Falling Up are great too. And of course, Silverstein is also the author of The Giving Tree, as well as other great books.
Those are my three favorite poets. Who are yours?
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