Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Top 50 Books of Poetry

The older I get, the more I realize that there is something elegant about a completed book of poetry.  I am not talking about a collection of poetry, but rather a series of poems that come together to form a completed series.  I once saw a complete exhibit of Kirchner at the Museum of Modern Art. The individual mural was nothing compared to the complete series standing in one room. The glorious streets of Berlin in the 1910s cannot be expressed in one scene. A woman's life cannot be expressed in one scene. The same is with poetry.

Once again this is solely based on what I have read and what mood I am in today.

Here's the list:

1.         The Sonnets/ William Shakespeare
            Could it be anything else. Sure, but it was written in the ear wedged between the epic and the metaphysical poets.The era of long driving narratives and sort separate poems devoid of any larger narrative. Shakespeare puts together a series of individual poems, which can stand alone, yet come together to form a much greater narrative.  The poems themselves are rarely stilted and flow well. The are perhaps one of the first examples of literature in the middle and modern era to be common not noble. They also at times are humorous such as sonnet 135:
Whoever hath her wish, thou hast thy Will,
And Will to boot, and Will in overplus;
More than enough am I, that vex thee still,
To thy sweet will making addition thus. 
Wilt thou, whose will is large and spacious,
Not once vouchsafe to hide my will in thine?
Shall will in others seem right gracious,
And in my will no fair acceptance shine? 
The sea, all water, yet receives rain still,
And in abundance addeth to his store;
So thou, being rich in Will, add to thy Will
One will of mine, to make thy large Will more.
Let no unkind, no fair beseechers kill;
Think all but one, and me in that one Will.

Keep in mind that in Elizabethan English Will meant: William, desire, penis, sex, vagina, and the reach-around. He uses the word Will 13 times in 14 lines. Haha. Genitals are funny.

2.         Paterson/ William Carlos Williams

            A new era and a new mode of poetry.  Modernism in all of its glory.  It's the tale of city; more than that really; perhaps it is the city itself. At the very least, it is WCW at his best.

3.         The Prose and Verse of Alfred Lichtenstein

            Forgotten but Brilliant. While it is not purely poetry, it goes into a lost era of history.  One of bohemianism, pessiv/optimism. Alfred Lichtenstein creates unforgettable characters and weaves sound with grace atypical of German. The Archetype of a Lost Genre and Generation.

4.         Meditations in an Emergency/ Frank O’Hara

            While it does not contain the poem Having a Coke with You, it is still powerful and moving all the same.

5.         Geography III/ Elizabeth Bishop

            All those volcanoes must mean something.

6.         Kora in Hell/ William Carlos Williams
8.         The Carminaof Catullus
9.         The Sands from Urns/ Paul Celan
10.       Lawrence Booth’s Book of Visions/ Maurice Manning
11.       Lunch Poems/ Frank O’Hara
12.       What Work is/ Philip Levine
15.       Howl/ Allen Ginsburg
16.       Collected Poems/ W.B. Yeats
17.       The Life and Opinions of DJ Spinoza/ Eugene Ostashevsky
18.       Leaves of Grass/ Walt Whitman
19.       Pierrort Lunaire/ Albert Girard
20.       Collected Poem/ John Keats
21.       Collected Poems/ Czeslaw Milosz
22.       Sonnets to Orpheus/ Rainer Maria Rilke
23.       Chicago Poems/ Carl Sandburg
24.       Collected Poems/ Nelly Sachs
25.       Dream Songs/ John Berryman
26.       Collected Poems/ Goethe
27.       Eternal Enemies/ Adam Zagajewski
28.       The Gold Cell/Sharon Olds
29.       Collected Poems/ Langston Hughes
30.       Des Knaben Wunderhorn/ Clemens Brentano
31.       The Rubaiyat/ Omar Khayyam
32.       Fa(r)ther Down: Songs from the Allergy Trial/ Arielle Greenberg
33.       The Nibelungenlied/ Anonymous
34.       Collected Poems/ Mayakovsky
35.       From the Devotions/ Carl Phillips
36.       Kaddish/ Allen Ginsburg
37.       Gallows Songs/ Christian Morgenstern
38.       Collected Poems/ Donald Justice
39.       Poems/ Alan Dugan
40.       Collected Poems/ Philip Levine
41.       Pictures from Breughel and other Poems/ William Carlos Williams
42.       Ariel/ Sylvia Plath
43.       Hesperides/ Robert Herrick
44.       Collected Poems/ Edgar Allan Poe
45.       Joke, Cunning, and Revenge/ Friedrich Nietzsche
46.       Bucolics/ Maurice Manning
47.       Insomnia Diaries/ Bob Hicok
48.       The Prophet/ Khalil Gibran
49.       Collected Poems/ Bertolt Brecht
50.       Hotel Nirvana/ Harold Norse

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