Picked through the stacks of give away books outside the library today and returned with two more.
INTRODUCTION TO POETRY, Commentaries on Thirty Poems by Mark Van Doren, Hill & Wang, NY, 1951.
A thin book (136 pp) with selected verse of Wordsworth, Whitman, Dickinson, Donne, Frost, Burns, Pound, Yeats, Lovelace, Thomas Carew, Mathew Prio, GeorgePeele, Sir Thomas Wyatt, Marvell, Herrick, Emerson, Hardy, Crane, Dryden, Hardy & Herrick.
Yes, just one woman: "I had not minded walls"and "The soul selects her own society," given up and pushed forward in a nimble, able way, quickly. There's no cumbersome plodding in his commentaries. Van Doren knits each poem into a whole using needles named brevity and lucidity.
Van Doren was clear in his selection process: he was looking for the short poem and the lyric. "I have not sought to define poetry," he says. He is more interested in being a matchstick, giving a flash of understanding to readers through his own commentary.
THE GOLDEN TREASURY, Selected from the best songs and lyrical forms in the English language, by Francis T. Palgrave, Late Professor of Poetry in the University of Oxford.
My second choice anthologizes the lyric too. But this editor bound his selections by "quality" of poem with no restrictions on length. This two volume revised edition was inscribed by Palgrave in 1861 when he wrote his dedication to Tennyson, whome he called "Poet"and "Friend" in almost worshipful praise
The volume includes an index of poems, poets and first lines and is a classic collection of formal verse. From it, on a random page turn, I found the wonderful despair of Edward Fitzerald : "I came like Water, and like Wind I go." Love is captured and rue. Gardens and memory, maidens and kisses, mariners, music, despair, echoes, friends. hills, herds, flocks, flowers, Sally and Mary and Duncan and Charlotte. The Bridge of Sighs, Westminster Abbey, supplication and lullabye, "All the breath and bloom of the year."