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The Rattle Bag

4.23  ·  Rating Details ·  716 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
The Rattle Bag is an anthology of poetry (mostly in English but occasionally in translation) for general readers and students of all ages and backgrounds. These poems have been selected by the simple yet telling criteria that they are the personal favorites of the editors, themselves two of contemporary literature's leading poets.

Moreover, Heaney and Hughes have elected to
Paperback, 512 pages
Published January 1st 1985 by Faber & Faber (first published 1982)
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(showing 1-30 of 717)
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Kevin Lawrence
Nov 29, 2013 Kevin Lawrence rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
This is one of my favorite anthologies -- some standards, some real surprises, consistently chosen by idiosyncratic sensibilities that say as much about the editor poets as about the quality of the chosen work itself. I don't think I would have ever been exposed to the "Hunter Poems of the Yoruba" but for this anthology, and I suspect Heaney threw in the strong presence of anonymous early traditional verse while Hughes ensured there would be a heavy dose of D.H. Lawrence. Maybe great American po ...more
Sep 25, 2012 Catherine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
an unusual anthology, but i chose it because of my love of heaney. hughes, well, not so much.

i've taken to opening it to random pages and enjoying a few pages of poetry every couple of days - the randomness of it is easily the best part.

it contains quite a few poets that i know and love, and so very many that i was unfamiliar with. which makes it a lovely exercise in seeing new wordsmiths and devouring their words.
Mark Glover
Dec 31, 2015 Mark Glover rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another fine collection of poems I have been slowly working my way through these past few years, The Rattle Bag is the perfect collection for anyone hoping to get back into reading poetry. The collection, an expansive collection of classical and modern poetry, really does offer nearly all poetry has to offer and I am sure others will find, as I did, that there are a number of poems which you will find yourself returning time and again as well as new poets whose work you will seek out(good luck w ...more
Sep 13, 2016 Marcia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, x2013
This collection of poetry edited by Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes is the perfect addition to any poetry shelf. Having made my way cover to cover, I will now find joy in taking The Rattle Bag off the shelf, opening to a random page, and enjoying the words I find there.

Seamus Heaney on the title:
... the volume was too abundant, too frolicsome and too unruly to go by the rather headmasterly title in the contract, so all of a sudden Ted suggested we call it by the name of a strange roguish poem trans
Apr 06, 2010 Sylvester rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
A more eclectic collection than usual. Some of my favorites:

- The Seafarer, by Anon(version by Ezra Pound)-"he singeth summerward"
- Spring, by G.M.Hopkins -"What is all this juice and this joy?
- Fairy Tale, by Miroslav Holub -"He cut out his bit of sky"
- Dinogad's Petticoat, from the Welsh(trans Gwyn Williams)
"Whatever your father struck with his spear
wild pig wild cat fox from his lair
unless it had wings it never got clear."
- Breathing Space July, by Tomas Transtromer
"the islands cra
Mar 15, 2016 Jade rated it it was amazing
This is undoubtedly my favourite anthology of poetry. What I like most is its variety- open the book on any page and you will certainly read something you weren't expecting to. Almost always a pleasant surprise, of course. Naturally it contains the works of some of the most dominant poets of all time- Shakespeare, Dickinson, Yeats, Plath, Bishop, to name a few. But what will also greet you in the pages of this beautiful anthology is the discovery of the undiscovered. The lesser known gems of poe ...more
K.M. Weiland
May 19, 2012 K.M. Weiland rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a brilliant and bountiful poetry collection. Its very variety, of course, means it can't help but be a bit uneven (subjectively so), but, all in all, it's been a tremendous pleasure. I spent the last year and a half reading one poem a day, and there was hardly a one that wasn't enjoyable from one aspect or another.
Jul 17, 2007 David rated it it was amazing
Over the years I've accumulated a variety of poetry anthologies. This is probably my favorite. For reasons which I can't articulate other than to say that I like the poems that are in it. (Duh!)
Mar 09, 2008 Kate rated it liked it
A parting gift from a Boston friend, this collection of poetry is a good volume to own if you'd like to own some poetry. It runs the gamut, from e.e. cummings to Shakespeare. Odds are very good that just about everyone will find something resonant in this volume. Co-editor Ted Hughes very decently includes some Sylvia Plath pieces, and there are a number of very familiar (and not so familiar) works by known and anonymous poets. A highlight is W.H. Auden's "Stop all the clocks, cut off the teleph ...more
Parrish Lantern
May 10, 2010 Parrish Lantern rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pomesallsizes
If you want a book you can dip into, that you can use to explore different poets from around the world. That can be a reference point to start your voyage into the alleys, paths & highways of poetry this is a good book to start with.The poets covered, some are known, some famous, but theres obscure poems, anonymous poems, poets whose lines you see within these pages will set you off on the road to other works/writers.
This book book is a key, a door, a path its up to you what you do with it.
Nov 01, 2014 Stephen rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, anthologies
Some of the poems I really disliked, but there were a lot in here new to me that were good discoveries such as D.H. LAwrence's Bat and Man which has become a favorite of me and my wife. As an anthology un-romantic, very un-Victorian and un-Edwardian. My taste and that of the editors don't overlap a lot but there was enough new to me to make this a good find. Given me by our son's mother in law, a teacher in Ireland.
Nov 15, 2011 Serenity rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, to-finish
GREAT introductory reader for someone relatively new to poetry. Has a nice range of poems (theme, author, time and geography, though with a concentration on post-1500s western poetry), some well-known and some more obscure. All really good, though!

Above all, I LOVE that the poems are arranged alphabetically by title rather than by author or theme, as the unpredictability of order makes each new poem a pleasant little surprise!
Feb 01, 2008 Heather is currently reading it
If you enjoy poetry this is a great group of peoms picked out by two amazing poets.
since this is A collection of Poetry I haven't read it from cover to cover but i have read a good deal of the poems and I love them. I grab this book from the shelf from time to time and read something, so this will probably stay on the currently reading list forever.
J. Mark
Oct 21, 2007 J. Mark rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: working poets
Shelves: poetry
Two of my favorite poets, Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney, team up to edit together a collection of their own favorite poems from the distant past to the present. They arranged the collection alphabetically by poem title so that the jumps through time and place jar and inspire. This is the first anthology I go to when I'm stuck in my own writing.
Andrea Lightfoot
May 17, 2016 Andrea Lightfoot rated it really liked it
There's plenty of poems that I recognised
and I found some easier to read than others

The format of the book meant that the titles of the poems were in alphabetical order, so if you ever needed to find a poem whose title begins with a certain letter of the alphabet, this is your book

Also, there are many well known poets featured - William Wordsworth, William Shakespeare, John Keats and so on

Jan 24, 2008 Charles rated it it was amazing
My favorite anthology of poetry. Heaney and Hughes don't try to collect the best poetry ever. They don't try to represent every author, period of style. They don't focus on a theme. The outcome is a selection that is wonderfully readable... nothing more or less.
Mar 04, 2011 ·Karen· rated it liked it
An eclectic mix, arranged alphabetically by title, which thrusts odd bedfellows next to each other. There's a good selection of poems in translation as well, which work amazingly well. A delightful ragbag.
Nov 02, 2010 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
My favourite poetry anthology up to now. The idea is so random and original, and you may find such delightful pieces while brownsing it when you got nothing better to do! Also, a book of poetry by and for poets and/or poetry lovers, who cool is that?
Robin Helweg-Larsen
Jan 29, 2016 Robin Helweg-Larsen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
My newest all-time-favourite poetry anthology. Unbelievably diverse, from Shakespeare to translations of Navajo chants. Appropriately arranged alphabetically by title or first line - it is too unclassifiably eclectic for any other system of grouping.
Nov 13, 2010 Mikael rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: boys
we should have a collection like this for indonesian schools. i think i remember sapardi releasing a collection of love poems (shakespeare's sonnets etc) but in handwriting fonts! crazy maybe they want the poems to resemble love letters. insane! it was totally unreadable like totally.
Jan 12, 2016 Lucy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star, poetry
My favourite book of poetry. However, may I correct the info for the book; it is edited by Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes. Yeah, pedantic, so what? It was mainly Heaney's effort, hence my correction ;) Anyway, wondrous poems from all around the world. A beautiful collection.
Ronan Mcdonnell
Dec 17, 2014 Ronan Mcdonnell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful, masterfully eclectic collection of such diverse poetry it defies competition. Five stars elude it due to my own reticence and reluctance to fully engage with poetry. This is as close as I will ever come to understanding it.
Susan Rose
This is a very eclectic enjoyable poetry anthology. I would really recommend this to anyone who wants to find new favourite poems, but also to people who want something to dip in and out of, (perhaps on the commute).
Jul 26, 2016 Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
Feb 14, 2012 Kathryn rated it it was amazing
The best, most surprising, amazing and thought-provoking anthology I have ever come across. I have been dipping into it for years and am still discovering new gems.
Feb 01, 2014 Oliver rated it it was amazing
What is not to like about this. A collection of some of the finest verse compile by two of our greatest modern poets.
Chris S
Chris S rated it liked it
Aug 14, 2010
Glenn Bateman
Glenn Bateman rated it it was amazing
May 06, 2014
Ella rated it it was amazing
Jul 15, 2015
Charlotte Burns
Charlotte Burns rated it liked it
Jul 14, 2013
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Seamus Justin Heaney was an Irish poet, writer and lecturer from County Derry, Ireland. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995, "for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past."

Heaney on Wikipedia.
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