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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on 3 February 2005
I never cared for poetry before, but this book has stirred me to learn about 30 poems so far and I'm very grateful for Ted Hughes challenging me to learn them 'by heart'. I actually bought the book for my wife a few years ago, and I only looked at it after hearing some quote of Macbeth's famous 'Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Tomorrow' speech on the radio and thinking I should make some effort to learn it (since I'd done Macbeth at school). The speech is in this book, and from there and I've been going through the book picking out poems that either I vaguely knew or liked the sound of. I practice while driving to work, and it's surprising how the poems stick in your head once you've managed to remember them once. I even managed to memorise Wordsworth's 'Tintern Abbey' which is over 5 pages long!
The only bad thing about this book is there's really a lot of poems about death or misery in one form or another, which perhaps reflects Hughes' outlook on life (I don't know much about him, but he died soon after this book was published, I think).
Despite this, I highly recommend the book as it has some great poems in it, and it managed to single-handedly convert me into someone who actually likes poetry now.
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58 of 60 people found the following review helpful
on 4 April 2001
By Heart is a collection of 101 great poems.
Says who? Says Ted Hughes, the late poet laureate. The introduction alone is worth the price of the book; Hughes tells how to memorize poems using the creative, intuitive right brain.
The collection includes old favourites by Robert Frost, Coleridge, Shakespeare, T.S. Eliot and Emily Dickenson. But everyone will find revelations here. Brilliant poems by poets you've never heard of. Or brilliant poems by poets you've heard of but just never come across. For me, the poems of a previous poet laureate - John Betjemen - were a wonderful discovery.
As a parent and teacher, I highly recommend this book to parents and other teachers. These are poems to teach your children! You might want to start with 'The Eagle' by Tennyson:
He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring'd with the azure world, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 16 July 2011
My grandparents were of a generation that took pleasure in memorising poetry and reciting it long after any requirement from their schooling compelled them to do so. And my grandmother first instilled an interest in poetry after I found and enjoyed her book of poems by Edgar Allen Poe. However I never really "got" the whole learning by heart ritual. Years later, in a moment of open-mindedness and very much a convert to the means of committing to memory advocated by Ted Hughes in the introduction (image association to connect words and phrases) I borrowed this book from the library with the slightly Quixotic idea that I would learn all 101 poems, employing my walk to work to achieve this piecemeal.

Now having committed the first 11 poems to memory - including my grandmother's favourite, On Westminster Bridge, I have started to "get it" and bought the book so someone else can enjoy the library copy. On learning the words and removing the requirement to read them from a page as one recites, it is much easier to inhabit the poems and appreciate them for what they are, a series of words strung together in a pleasing way to articulate an emotion, scene or story. The learning of the poems has also coincided with the birth of my first child, and being able to intersperse night-time lullabies with these poems has also been something I have enjoyed (and found very handy in a darkened room).

I have also learned not to pre-judge a poem before I've learned it. And though I may not have found myself gravitating to some of these poets before memorising their verse I have found a new-found respect for them after absorbing the verses.

If one measures a book by the hours of enjoyment one has derived from it, this would be my favourite book, with every poem to date seeming well-chosen and rewarding.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 20 January 2012
Don't expect these to be 12 or 14 line poems. Some are large chunks of much longer poems, good but too long to learn by heart unless you have a lot of enthusiasm or a lot of free time.
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on 21 June 2012
A lovely book and this copy is in first class condition. I have realy enjoyed rereading favourite poems. Will look for more similar.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 February 2014
awful choice of verse - from macabre to awful
give it a miss
got to write more so awful awful...................................
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 20 March 2009
This is a small treasure of poetry to give friends of all ages for birthdays and other special occasions.
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6 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 2 November 2007
Sorry but this was a great disappointment. As a collection it bears a close resemblance to a school primer and offers no signs of the poems having been chosen except on the basis they are famous. Some of them are really not even technically that good.Maybe it is too much to hope that a good poet can show clear strong taste of his own. Would not recommend it except to a reader who does not know any poems and is starting from scratch. Otherwise a poor choice for a bookclub. A pity.
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