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Immortal Poems of the English Language

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  973 ratings  ·  47 reviews
Immortal Poems
Here is the most inclusive anthology of verse ever published at so low a price. It contains not only the best-known works of the British and American masters but also the verse of the most brillant poets of our own day. Oscar Williams, who compiled Immortal Poems, was a distinguished editor and poet in his own right, of whom Robert Lowell wrote in the
Paperback, 624 pages
Published August 3rd 1983 by Pocket Books (first published 1952)
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Susan Budd
My copy of Immortal Poems of the English Language must be handled gingerly to prevent it from completely falling apart. The cover is held together with so much clear tape that it’s probably more tape than cover. But the memories this book holds are as strong as the paper is brittle.

This current copy is actually my second ~ the first having been worn out so quickly that it soon needed replacing. I remember them both living in my book bag during my college years. The first was purchased for a
This has been an ongoing "Currently Reading" book in my collection since I owned the first, 1952 edition. Every now and them it falls to pieces and I get a new copy. Many of my favorite poems are in here, the ones I memorized in childhood to recite before dinner, the ones that comforted me during bad times in childhood, the ones Mama read when Father died. I read some of those same ones to my nephew when my mother died, and earlier this year, when my younger sister died suddenly, I chose poems ...more
Apr 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I carried this book around the world in my backpack when I went to Japan as an exchange student in high school, and again when I travelled around the world, in college. It's a great book to have when traveling, with high literature-per-ounce value, and can be re-read many times. The collection favors older poems -- there's not much even from the earlier 20th century, but it's good for what it does.
Apr 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone and their mother
Shelves: alreadyread
If you like poetry, this is a brilliant collection. John Keats was well represented in this. It is a very inclusive and comprehensive anthology. But the volume is not too intimidating and I found myself easily lingering on a few poems for days, and then sifting through others within minutes, which is the beauty of an anthology -- not too daunting... when you're reading poetry, this makes for a great variety of writing styles and I never got bored. My only complaint is that Elizabeth Barret ...more
Sep 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favoritebooks
I thought the collection was very well done. So many epic poems, and with no notes in it you could take it in and try it figure it out yourself.
Jun 15, 2009 marked it as reference
I am enjoying this book as something to browse through. It's a nice collection of poems by different writers. Some of the poems are long and complex, but a few are short and fun, such as:

Epigram (Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1772-1839)
Sir, I admit your general rule,
That every poet is a fool,
But you yourself may serve to show it,
That every fool is not a poet.


The Golf Links (Sarah N Cleghorn, 1876-1959)
The golf links lie so near the mill
That almost every day
The laboring children can look out
And see
Mar 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Some poets overrepresented, others underrepresented. A good collection, though.
Jan 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The grizzly bear is huge and wild;
He has devoured the infant child.
The infant child is not aware,
It has been eaten by the bear.

- A.E. Housman Page 487

Love it.
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’ve been working through this anthology for a few months now, and finally reached the end. Overall, I think it provides an excellent taste of poems of the English language and their history. Many classics are contained herein, and yet, it’s concise enough not to be overwhelming. I was frustrated with some omissions. There are SEVERAL John Donne poems, and yet my favorite “To His Mistress Going to Bed,” was not included. I was similarly frustrated with the selections of Walt Whitman’s poems, as ...more
Nov 05, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a very nice compilation of poems, but it was a little long and daunting in my opinion. For people recently interested in poetry, I would choose something a little smaller and modern
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Apr 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics, poetry
This is one of four poetry anthologies I own. I think I love my copy of A Book of Women Poets best, for it's international and historical focus--it opens with Enheduanna, a Sumerian Priestess who may be the earliest known name in written literature. But this book comes a close second, being perhaps the earliest book of poetry I ever bought. The focus of this book as the title suggests is the English Language. As stated in the cover, it includes "447 British and American Masterpieces by 150 ...more
May 25, 2008 rated it liked it
There is a ton of stuff in here. I'm not a huge poetry buff, and reading this book straight through probably wasn't the best idea. That said, this has almost anything you could want, pre-20th century. (Except Lord Byron. One short poem?!? The Milton pages went on for days!) There are plenty of long poems, including the entirety of "Rime of the Ancient Mariner," plenty of Keats, Whitman, Dickinson, Shakespeare, etc. So, you're good for pre-1900's. After that, it's kind of limited in terms of ...more
Oct 04, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011, own, poetry
I enjoy dabbling in poetry so this anthology of the "immortal poems" seemed appropriate for dabbling. However, I felt numerous poets were shortchanged in the book while others were far too represented (like poets I have never even heard of and it seems that was for good reason!). Elizabeth Barrett Browning only had ONE poem in the entire book, ONE. Ridiculous. There were quite a number of poems that I would never consider important to English language poetry nonetheless any good. There were also ...more
Mary Anne
Mar 27, 2015 rated it liked it
We have a bunch of books in our bookcase at work. Most of the books are classics, plays, books of poetry, argumentation, debate, and other forensics-shaped things. I found this book and decided to give it a go. I haven't read a lot of poetry and clearly wanted to read a whole bunch.

It's safe to say I hadn't read most of the poetry in this book. And a lot is lost on me. But there were some bits that I really did like (though I felt a bit odd liking Walt Whitman's poetry), and I'm overall glad I
Martin Cerjan
Sep 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
My second poetry subway book since moving to NYC. Many of the old chestnuts are here, but some surprises. I was glad to revisit some familiar poems, but I was also glad to read some folks I had given short shrift to earlier. It helps getting older--at least in some respects. Pope. Tennyson. I believe it is good for me to read and re-read. I'm going to look for another anthology. And there was some bad stuff in here! But that's OK since work often distracts my mind during my commute and I cannot ...more
It' s been my companion since I got it as a present from a very precious friend, when I was 18 years old. Since it's always with me , I keep coming back to it and reading reading, Keats and Milton as my favourite poets. But then again Thomas Hardy is also one of my favourite, mostly I can' t decide they are all part of my life reading.
Jul 07, 2008 rated it liked it
This has been a long read. I have had this book for 2 years and Im still not through it. It a no joke hard corp collection of poems. For now I have a love hate relationship with it. Some of the poems are amazing and others exhist when I think they should have long ago went the way of all things. Unfortunately that probably means Im to stupid to understand them. So I cant just love this book.
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you like modern, experimental poetry, this book is not for you. These are the poems that my grandmother used to read to me when I was little, and I love the selection-- it has all of my classic favorites, and it's great to read a few before bed. I highly recommend it! My absolute favorites are The Day is Done and The Children's Hour, both by Longfellow.
Ben Popken
Feb 10, 2014 rated it liked it
I feel like many of the poems weren't my favorite but I liked many of them as well. This book certainly helped me with my English assignment.

Seeing as it was compiled in 1952 (which I didn't realize until later) I shouldn't have expected more modern poetry. Nevertheless I was disappointed at it's lack of modern poetry.
Alex Kartelias
The first collection of poetry I read back in 9th grade. A lot of great memories reading Shakespeare, Milton, Keats, Wordsworth and Whitman for the first time- among the many poets who are here. Good selection to read in order to get into poetry.
Sep 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
I bought this for an undergrad class and have hung on to it since. Great anthology, especially for Brit lit fans like myself, and I still pick it up now and then and flip through the beautiful poems.
Blue Caeruleus
Mar 30, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
I skipped a whole bunch of poems in this anthology and nearly as many as I should have. As with most anthologies of poetry that I've read, for every entertaining or inspiring poem that was included here, there were a dozen boring and impenetrable ones.
Apr 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
Great book which I'm glad I own. I have loved it for a few years now and will go on to use it till I need to buy a new less worn copy. Tis a great introduction to so many poets. Very handy to take about with you to dip into when you please.
Gregory Knapp
Apr 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Still sporting the same cover for at least the last 40 years (how comforting, how rare) and published by Pocket Books, this compact book is still the best "Pocket Anthology" of English Poetry in print.

A Foundational book for any home library and the perfect size for traveling.

Nov 05, 2014 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of poetry from the distant past to the 20th century
Honestly, I just read through these poems once, so I can't make a good assessment at this time. Most of them require in-depth and multiple readings. With so many allusions, I'll have to dig deeper (I'm sure it will be worth it).

Apr 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I have owned this book for years and years, and I love it as much today as I did when I purchased it! Full of the "famous" poems we all grew up with, this book also surprises the reader with some previously un-heard of poems. A wonderful collection!
Nicole Herzog
Mar 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is my second copy of this book! I have literally worn out the pages on the other to the extent that they are just sheets of paper floating. In all sincerity a fantastic gathering of poetry, one of the finest I've read.
Jul 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I've had this book since I was in my early's dogged-eared, soft with age and use, and much loved. <3
David Jeffers
Nov 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Love this compilation. Been reading sections out of it for years. Lots of years, too.
Aug 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: literature
I confess that poetry generally makes me yawn, but it is a nice collection of classic works that even I need to be familiar with.
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