Top Ten Books of Poetry from Dead Poets

The Telegraph’s Top Ten Poetry Classics got me wanting to make my own list of Favorite books of poetry. I’ve broken them into two lists, poets alive and poets that are dead. I was going to limit it to the modern era, but I would’ve missed Edgar Lee Masters so I stretched it backwards to include him and upon finding that I was near ten (finding comfort in such tidy numbers) I added Dylan Thomas who I like well enough to round out a top ten list.

Collected Poems by E. E. Cummings

Like man, Cummings was the poet that drew me into poetry. The name of this blog comes from one of his poems and I have written about many others. Here are three of the poems I’ve discussed: 1. Noster was a ship of swank 2. Jehovah Buried, Satan Dead and 3. a thrown a

Circus Days & Nights by Robert Lax

For many years I’ve felt that the circus is the only great metaphor for life so I was thrilled to find someone who shared my belief. Robert Lax patterns his circus poems on the creation myth, working through the creative acts to illuminate wisdom and love. If King Solomon were around today he would be reading Robert Lax.

Cien Sonetos de Amor by Pablo Neruda

My relationship with Neruda began with the famous “pink book” (that has appeared in several films, most recently “Dan in Real Life”) which was translated by Stephen Tapscott. My Guatemalan born, Spanish speaking wife, has revealed Neruda to me in the original language causing my appreciation of Neruda and my depreciation of Tapscott’s translation to grow concordantly. Until the new translation comes out we will make do with out own translations of Neruda’s fine sonnets of love.

Axion Esti by Odysseas Elytis

I stumbled upon Odysseas Elytis by accident. Knowing a little Greek (Koine, not modern Greek), having a love for Grecian geography, and willing to drop half a dollar I purchased his epic and read it cover to cover. He is called the Greek Walt Whitman if that’s what you’re into.

Collected Poems by T. S. Eliot

I remember the line that won me over to Eliot, from The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock: “I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.”

Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters

This book was a sensation when it first came out, but it remains pretty well forgotten today. The hook is a simple one: poems written in the voice of various characters that live in a small town. It’s like listening to gossip without the guilt, but with all the sensation and intrigue.

Collected Poems by Robert Creeley

After picking up the above volume for two quarters I made fun of it mercilessly. It seems like poetry written without very much skill and perhaps much of it is, but I began to enjoy it. I still do. I won’t even look down on you for hating it.

Collected Poems by Robert Frost

I’ve already confessed my neurosis for buying every edition of Robert Frost’s poetry that I came across. I even read Lawrance Thompson’s three volume biography of Frost.

New Poems by Rainer Maria Rilke

This book  makes it off my shelf a couple times a year and I pick at it for weeks on end. This year I even translated one of his poems and tried my hand at another though its result won’t make it to the website anytime soon.

Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas

Everything I’ve read by Dylan Thomas I’ve  loved. Have I read very much? Nope. Do I like Top Ten lists? Yup.

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