|A Pandora's box of poetry|
If The Story Of Mankind introduced me to history, and if As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning revealed the delights of long distance walking, then Louis Untermeyer's Golden Treasury opened up a magical world of poetry. I found this book in my stocking one Christmas and was immediately entranced. Although my parents used to lull me to sleep at night with stories and poems, although I was used to seeing poetry books around the house — Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden Of Verses, AA Milne's When We Were Very Young, John Betjemen's Collected Poems — it was this book which really stirred my imagination, awakening a love of words and rhyme and rhythm and illustration which has continued to the present day. Who could not possibly be charmed by this lovable doggy poem by Ogden Nash?
|Doggy poems: click to enlarge|
Or fail to be moved by Elizabeth Bishop's fish with "his brown skin hung in strips like ancient wallpaper" and by the boat's engine oil spreading out "until everything was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow"?
|Fish poem: click to enlarge|
Or startled by Emily Dickinson's original and lovely way of seeing?
I'll tell you how the sun rose —
A ribbon at a time.
The steeples swam in amethyst,
The news like squirrels ran.
The hills untied their bonnets,
The bobolinks begun.
Then I said softly to myself,
"That must have been the sun!"
But how he set, I know not.
There seemed a purple stile
Which little yellow boys and girls
Were climbing all the while
Till when they reached the other side,
A dominie in gray
Put gently up the evening bars,
And led the flock away.
And this description of fog by Carl Sandburg is pure perfection:
The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbour and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
|Endpapers illustrated by Joan Walsh Anglund|