Good Reads: The Great Modern Poets | SierraSun.com

Good Reads: The Great Modern Poets

Barbara Perlman Whyman

What a wonderful way to appreciate fifty of the most well-respected American and English-language poets of the twentieth century and their poetry and themes! Whether you want a book that will be an excellent introduction to poetry or you want a book to present the lives of the poets along with some of their favorite poems, “The Great Modern Poets: The Best Poetry of Our Times,” edited by poetry authority Michael Schmidt fits the bill.

Schmidt, a poet, novelist, translator, editor of the magazine PN Review, literary historian and anthropologist, is the Professor of Poetry at the University of Glasgow. He provides insight, observations and the historical context for each poet and their works. In the introduction, he suggests ways to appreciate the poems, and also provides a glossary that demystifies the concepts and movements of modern poetry. Included are poets who define the poetry with which and the times in which we grew up such as Wallace Stevens, Robert Frost, W. B. Yeats, Frank O’Hara, Adrienne Rich, e. e. cummings, Robertson Jeffers, T. S. Eliot, Sylvia Plath, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, Elizabeth Bishop, Langston Hughes, Robert Lowell, Dylan Thomas.

Let me share the entire poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost for your thought and enjoyment. As Schmidt states in his discussion of Frost, “The quality of Frost’s sound in his voice, in his delivery is astonishing.”

” Syndicated columnist Barbara Perlman-Whyman’s weekly Good Reads column can be read weekly in the Sun or visit sierrasun.com.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

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And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I “

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Adults (fiction): “The Man Who Loved China: The Fantastic Story of the Man Who Unlocked the Secets of the Middle Kingdom” by Simon Winchester

Young Adult (ages 13 to 17): “Babylon’s Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo” by Lawrence Anthony and Graham Spence

Juvenile (fourth to sixth grade): “Gossamer” by Lois Lowry

Children (second to third grade): Ballet of the Elephants” by Leda Schubert

Books for Book Groups: “On Chesil Beach”

by Ian McEwan