The Top 500 Poems Hardcover – Dec 10 1992
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From School Library Journal
YA-- A chronological compilation that tells "the story of poetry in English." Harmon enhances each entry with pertinent information about the work and the poet; his insight adds much to the enjoyment of the collection. The selections are taken from the ninth edition of The Columbia Granger's Index to Poetry , chosen because 400 contemporary editors, critics, and poets included them most often in their own anthologies. "The Poems in Order of Popularity" concludes the book. Easy-to-read print with a look of fine calligraphy on high-quality paper add to the appeal.
- Arlene Hoebel, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
If your library can buy only one volume of poetry, let this be it.(Booklist)
The Top 500 Poems is intriguing in concept and management, and most of us will want to own it. And for this we are grateful.(Gwendolyn Brooks, poet)
A revealing snapshot of one aspect of Western civilization, even including a list of the poems in order of popularity.(Globe and Mail)
The merriest poetry anthology of the past decade.... It's everything from 'Sumer is icumen in' to Sylvia Plath's 'Daddy' with terse, plain, and rather wonderful commentary by Harmon.(Buffalo News)
It is rare indeed to come across a book in which wisdom and love come together as powerfully as they do for William Harmon.(John Frederick Nims, coauthor of Western Wind: An Introduction to Poetry) See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
However, the overwhelming quality of the bulk of the book more than makes up for the weak patches. "The Top 500 Poems" is well organized chronologically, giving the reader a definite sense of progression through history. The introductory paragraphs to each author are informative and concise, and the commentary after each poem is brief but illuminating. Most important, of course, are the poems themselves, which at their best glow with the energy of the greatest literature. Personal favorites included here are: "Western Wind," "They Flee From Me," "That Time of Year Thou Mayst in Me Behold," "The Sun Rising," "To Penshurst," "The Collar," "To His Coy Mistress," "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard," "Holy Thursday," "Composed Upon Westminster Bridge," "Kubla Khan," "Ozymandias," "Ode On a Grecian Urn," "Ulysses," "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed," "Because I Could Not Stop for Death," "God's Grandeur," "Sailing to Byzantium," "The Red Wheelbarrow," "Dulce et Decorum Est," "Fern Hill," "Church Going," and "Daddy," to name a few. Many, many more poems equally wonderful are included along with these.Read more ›
By providing 750 years of poetry with commentary in chronological form, the reader watches the evolution of short verse in time-lapse photography. Anonymous ballads preserved by laundresses of old give way over the centuries to tightly structured meditations on passion, to the contemporary picking and choosing among forms or leaving them out entirely. After reading Edmund Spenser's gorgeous Prothalamion, published in 1596, Harmon tells us that T.S. Eliot's Waste Land borrows a line from it. John Donne borrows a line from Christopher Marlowe.Read more ›
Everyone has their idea of who the greatest poets were/are, and this book is as good of a cursory review of the greatest poets and poetry that can be put together. As a result this book has 3 drawbacks for the true enthusiast. 1) as has been noted by other reviewers, it only encompasses the English poets 2) this is someone elses' decisions on the "best" poetry and may leave out your particular favorite poem(s) (3) no depth to some poets but gives ample space to others, for example - Shakespeare 29 poems, Walt Whitman 5 poems, Edgar Allen Poe 6, Robert Frost 11, Emily Bronte 1, Geoffrey Chaucer 1.
Given the above listed shortcomings that would apply to any attempt to aggregate the "best" poetry, this book does an admirable job. As such, it makes a great gift for your favorite aunt or a bedside companion for yourself. Just realize that if you are a Frost fanatic, you will have to seek something more comprehensive for your favorite poet. Enjoy!
First, the editor claims in the introduction that "English-speaking people have produced one of the greatest bodies of literature," which does a disservice to all other bodies of literature. It sounds conceited, as does his editorial voice in some footnotes. Finally, when he defines, in the footnotes to various poems, words that may be unfamiliar to the reader, he often offers definitions for words that are not to be found in the poem or are misspelled. Is he trying to enlighten the reader or to confuse? I read that "whether" means "whithersoever," so I searched the poem in question for "whether" and found "whither" instead. One error would not have bothered me, but this occurs consistently.
The poems are a treasure, the commentary, less so.
Most recent customer reviews
Our Favourite! We sit and take turns reading poems out load to each other at family gathering when we're all tired from talking and playing games.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
First, I must say that this book is essential to any poety lover's collection; however, I have seen and read bits of other- much older, however- collections of poetry that contain... Read morePublished on June 19 2003
I like to buy this book as a present for people I like because I know I can hardly go wrong. (Forget the Godiva chocolates or the Heitz Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon: this will... Read morePublished on March 13 2001 by Dennis Littrell
Me gusto mucho este libro, prestamo que me hizo una amiga por un par de meses, no los lei todos claro, ni me agradaron todos, pero me gusto encontrar el ritmo de la poesia inglesa. Read morePublished on June 12 2000 by Luis Méndez
Harmon's collection is not meant as an academic text, but rather an anthology of best loved poems for your reading enjoyment. If you want a text book, buy a textbook. Read morePublished on March 27 2000
If you're looking for a book to study with, you probably shouldn't go for this one--as other reviewers have pointed out, it doesn't have footnotes or numbered lines. Read morePublished on Jan. 10 2000
I'm very disappointed with this editor. I bought the book as a present for someone who knows nothing of English poetry. Read morePublished on Dec 24 1999
This compilation is wonderful. The poems range from some early anonymous rhymes and songs to interesting selections from the great poets of the English language in the 18th and... Read morePublished on Sept. 2 1999