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Customer Review

If you love poetry you will adore this book. It begins with an introduction which explains the sonnet form as being fourteen lines - the optimum at which human attention is easily held, and also goes into some of the forms varied incarnations and history. But a poem can be a sonnet with thirteen lines too - perfectly properly. Poetry is extremely flexible as it has had to be in order to service human nature. These damned poets can scarcely make their minds up about anything to do with definition. But it doesn't matter. Opening with Robert Frost's The Silken Tent, which is perhaps sublime and delicate beyond any other poem here, this collection has a large number of other delights.

The thing with poetry is that you cannot get enough, once hooked. There are the usual suspects: Wordsworth's The world is too much with us, John Donne's Batter my heart three-personed God, William Blake's To the evening star, and Carol Ann Duffy's Prayer along with Simon Armitage's Poem, and W B Yeats' Leda and the Swan. Here is one I hadn't come across before and especially loved, by Robert Hayden: Those Winter Sundays

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labour in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house.

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?
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