I have decided to start reading more poetry after hearing poetry being read by a visiting professor to my college. The stuff he read out got me so very excited and I wanted to read all the poetry in the world, but I realized I don’t know where to start. In fact, I know no poets except for the romantic poets we studied in school. (Most of whose poems I thoroughly enjoyed, by the way. Especially Frost, although I’m not sure if he was a romantic poet. I think I may be using the word ‘romantic’ to mean ‘old’ or ‘not contemporary’, the way most people use ‘classics’ to mean old books. Someone will have to educate me.) Anyway, what I really want is to read some contemporary or at least 20th Century poetry. Someone please give me recommendations on where to start. Or point me to someone who can give me recommendations. Thank you. 🙂
Oh, in case you’re wondering why my law professors are reading us poetry, it’s because this particular professor is teaching a course on themes of justice in Shakespeare. And yes, it is as interesting as it sounds. One of my goals in 2015 will be to read more Shakespeare, but I didn’t talk about it before because I do know where to start. I will start with Macbeth. Some thing about Macbeth has always appealed to me. And this interest only deepened after we discussed the following passage. It is his soliloquy after the news of Lady Macbeth’s death is delivered to him:
“She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
— To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
— Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5, lines 17-28)
i… it just… Yikes, It was the antidote I needed after reading Longfellow’s sickeningly didactic poem in the 10th grade. I forgot what it was called and had to google it. It’s A Psalm of Life and it always made me cringe. I am not against optimism but must poets LECTURE their readers quite so smugly? One can see why it was included in high school curriculum. My apologies to Longfellow fans, of course. I’m the stubborn one who throws up after being given medicine even if I know it’s good for me. I did this a lot with syrups because I found them sickeningly sweet. Turns out that my philosophy towards poetry is the same. I like cynicism. I even like pessimism.
Longfellow has some good lines though. I really like the imagery in:
“Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,