More PoeTree

I was going to add some things to my last post on poetry, but it is LONG. So I’m going to do my adding here. To follow the complete on-line conversation, go read PoeTree first and then come back here for this.

After I posted I got down some of my favorite collections books, to start perusing them for poems. Surely there are more than 18 poems that I love, if, as I say, I love poetry.

And I found Lewis Carroll’s “Father William” which I memorized when I was younger. I loved it then and I love it now. It is irreverence of the old for the young and quite fun.

Which reminded me of “Jest Fore Christmas.” This is another of my favorite poems. It is my favorite Christmas poem which is not also a song. It’s about a boy who is glad he’s not a girl, glad he doesn’t have to get dressed up like little Lord Fantelroy. He likes green apples, swimming in the lake… but jest fore Christmas he’s as good as he can be. To read the whole poem by Eugene Field go to this Amherst Edu address. By the by, this will introduce you to lots of his work that I didn’t know was his work, if you follow the links around.

In One Hundred and One Famous Poems I found the above poem and this one which I marked “at my funeral.” “A Psalm of Life” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Act,–act in the living Present!
Heart within and God o’erhead!

I think I must really like preachy poems. The next one I find highlighted, going backwards from the middle, is “Nobility” by Alice Carey. “There’s nothing so kingly as kindness, And nothing so noble as truth.” It starts off “True worth is in being, not seeming, –In doing, each day that goes by, Some little good–not in dreaming Of great things to do by and by.” I doubt I would put it in with 52 poems that were all I could say to someone.

Then there’s one I’ve read the parody of, from Alice in Wonderland, “The Spider and the Fly” by Mary Howitt. I didn’t mark it in my book; I just noticed it because I was specifically looking for women’s poetry. Again, not something I would do if I only had 52 poems.

Another one I have marked is “The Fool’s Prayer” by Edward R. Sill. It’s not a great poem, but I have often begun my prayers as he did. “God, be merciful to me, a fool!” Not a 52.

Then there’s “I Shall Not Pass This Way Again” by Eva Rose York. It ends “May someone say– Remembering a lessened pain– “Would she could pass this way again.” Not a 52.


After eating lunch I was thinking of “The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Alfred Tennyson. Which made me think of “The Assyrian Came down like a wolf on the fold and his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold.” That line is from “The Destruction of Sennacherib” by Lord Byron. It’s not one of the poems I would put out as a message. But it is a poem I enjoy and teach often.

“Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” by Wallace Stevens. I like it more for what it suggests than what it says. So though I often teach it, again, it is probably not one of my 52.

“Ragged Old Flag” by Johnny Cash is one of my favorites. And I probably would put it up. You can find the words at The Holiday Zone.This I WOULD put down for the 52.

“America, the Beautiful” by Katherine Lee Bates

“If” by Kipling.

“Creation” by James Weldon Johnson

A poem that I found while I was looking for other poems I’ve loved all my life is John Ciardi’s “The Gift.” I thought it was an excellent poem. It is about a man who gets out of Dachau and finds life again. “strangers could not tell he had died once.” “clean white paper waiting under a pen/ is the gift beyond history and hurt and heaven.” I think I might put it in the 52, even though I haven’t always loved it.

That would give me 23 to recommend to the PoeTree.

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