So, e. e. cummings might not stand up to the greats on close inspection, but I find his poems delightful, sexy, charming and fun - so so what? e. e. c...moreSo, e. e. cummings might not stand up to the greats on close inspection, but I find his poems delightful, sexy, charming and fun - so so what? e. e. cummings was creative, and there's no doubt that he's an influential poet of the 20th century even if most professors shy from giving his credit or teaching him in their classrooms. I guess you could say he's the Andrew Llyod Webber of poetry. (less)
I did not know of the actual book of poetry by Robert Service, but I knew many of the famous lines and verses that have been quoted in other popular p...moreI did not know of the actual book of poetry by Robert Service, but I knew many of the famous lines and verses that have been quoted in other popular pieces of literature and even in the occasional news article. I believe I quoted one line I liked over dinner, and my Dad instantly recognized it as belonging to a famous poem by Robert Service. Now, my father is not the world's greatest authority on poetry, but it was clear when he gave me this book that he revered it and thought I would love it. On that recommendation, I jumped in and and never looked back. Robert Service was born with the soul of a poet, and his work on the cold, ruthless, rambunctious and stormy northern territory is some of the most soulful and chillingly beautiful poetry I have ever read.
I suggest starting with "The Shooting of Dan McGrew," "The Cremation of Sam McGee" and "The Harpy." If these poems do not hook you, then you might as well walk away from this book. If they do appeal to you, then start back at the beginning and read straight through.
I had read only read a few of Milton's poems when I signed up for a class devoted to Milton my senior year of college. I was an English Major, see, an...moreI had read only read a few of Milton's poems when I signed up for a class devoted to Milton my senior year of college. I was an English Major, see, and I lived for this kind of stuff.
My journey into Milton was full of rewards. I was taking another class on 16th century poetry at the same time, so by the middle of the semester I was dreaming in blank verse and constantly sitting on benches in the quad with a book two inches from my nose, mumbling to myself. I don't think that I would have come to understand the spirit of Milton, Wyatt, Spenser and several others if I hadn't read their lines out loud.
Sidenote: If you ever decide to take a class in 16th century poetry or concentrate on one the famous poets from that period, I strongly suggest reading verses to yourself out loud. Speaking will give way to the proper rhythm, which in turn will give way to the meaning, which in turn will, I hope, help you understand that half of these poems had some vicious put-downs, delicious l sexuality, and humor. Just because it's a poem doesn't mean that the underlying meaning can't boil down to, "You're hot, and I want to have sex with you", "Okay, so you're married and we might get damned to hell, but I still really, really want to have sex with you", "Oh Lord! Sex with you is so awesome", and/or "I'm really pissed off that you stopped having sex with me."
"Paradise Lost" is a tad more complex than that, but some of those themes remain. However, there is much more about the politics of heaven, the great battle for heaven, the fall of the unfaithful angels, and Satan planning his revenge , seething with hate, humor and regret, and Adam's and Eve life in paradise. It is a sweeping epic of the beginning of man and the consquences of his creation on heaven and earth.
At the culmination of this class, I was blessed (and cursed) to part of a marathon reading of the entire work that lasted 14 hours. During the reading, we bit into apples at the same time as Eve, hissed with the fallen angels as they burned and seethed on the great lake of fire in hell, and eventually went wildly delirious by hour 10 and completely barking mad by hour 14. It was so worth it. My love of Milton was cemented forever by this total submersion (dare I say descent?) into his classic.