Sunday, May 4, 2014

Review: The World's 1000 Best Poems ed. by Berton Braley (10 Volumes)

Synopsis: A collection of poems, dating from Ancient Samaria up to the early 1920s. As it was published in 1929, it contains no poetry or poets past that point.

Review: I picked up 9 of the 10 volumes for a total of $3 at a church rummage sale. I bought the last volume for $5 online. I read the entire set in April because April is National Poetry Month.
I was pleasantly surprised by this collection. Braley did a fine job of choosing poets - famous and not-so-famous, everyone from Shakespeare and Milton to the anonymous writers of drinking songs. Not only did he include high poetry, but he included favorite common jingles and negro spirituals. He included a few female poets, but most of the authors were male. He organized them by poet's last name and included an informative index in Volume X, making the entire set easy to search.
In the end, I found this an excellent collection, well-chosen and well-organized, and well worth reading. I highly recommend:

Note: My favorite poem of all 1000:

Song of the Greek Amazon by William Cullen Bryant

I buckle to my slender side
The pistol and the scimitar,
And in my maiden flower and pride
Am come to share the task of war.
And yonder stands the fiery steed,
That paws the ground and neighs to go,
My charger of the Arab breed
I took him from the routed foe.

My mirror is the mountain-spring,
At which I dress my ruffled hair;
My dimmed and dusty arms I bring,
And wash away the blood-stain there.
Why should I guard from wind and sun
This cheek, whose virgin rose is fled?
It was for one- oh, only one
I kept its bloom, and he is dead.

But they who slew him- unaware
Of coward murderers lurking nigh
And left him to the fowls of air,
Are yet alive- and they must die!
They slew him- and my virgin years
Are vowed to Greece and vengeance now,
And many an Othman dame, in tears,
Shall rue the Grecian maiden’s vow.

I touched the lute in better days,
I led in dance the joyous band;
Ah! they may move to mirthful lays
Whose hands can touch a lover’s hand.
The march of hosts that haste to meet
Seems gayer than the dance to me;
The lute’s sweet tones are not so sweet
As the fierce shout of victory.

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: None
Date Published: 1929
Date Finished: 4-26-2014
Pages: 2500 (250 per volume, 10 volumes)

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