Not many books make me grab a pencil and write notes in the margin, look up words I don't understand and hilight paragraphs that enlighten me.
After 174 pages I finally succumbed and got my pencil out. The criticism of Phillip Sidney's work on that page struck me with it's brilliance. Schmidt here (for me at least) gets to the heart of Sidney's work, offering an analysis of poetry itself that reaffirms (and indeed deepens) my love for the art form.
A biography, criticism and sampler of most of the English poets to date, I am certain this book will enlighten poetry enthusiasts and give you a fresh insight into poets you already know as well as an introduction to those you don't.
The only caveat I offer is for those who are attempting to gain an introduction to poetry by this volume: start with building an appreciation for the raw form first. Find out whose poetry you like without the burden of criticism and biography. That way you won't stumble at the first hurdle. Try a poetry collection first, such as The Nation's Favourite Poems
. This will hopefully whet your appetite.
For those who loved this book I highly recommend the out-of-date but honestly written The Anatomy of Poetry
by Marjorie Boulton, for help to appreciate the form and structure of poetry.