I found this to be an absolutely brilliant book. John Carey, an Oxbridge professor, is an erudite guide to learning about poems and poetry. But, he is not only an intelligent guide, he has written a book where I wanted to keep turning the pages.
This book encompasses the history of poetry from the earliest epics, such as The Gilgamesh Epic, and moves through the centuries, ending in chapter 40 with modern poets including Maya Angelou and Mary Oliver. I could list so many, many of the included poets but will pick just ten to give an idea of what the book contains: Homer, Dante, Donne, Milton, Wordsworth, Eliot, Pound, Elizabeth Bishop, Auden and Stevie Smith.
To give an example of the flavor of this title, chapter one is about the Gilgamesh Epic. The story itself is clearly recounted but the author gives so much more than this; for example, there is discussion about how this story relates to other biblical tales and poetry’s depictions of death as a central issue for all. This expansiveness leaves the reader with much food for thought.
Professor Carey sees that music and poetry are analagous; one gives us the best of noise while the other may give us the best of words. (This is my understanding of what he said).
I recommend this book most highly. Even before our current crisis, 2020 was becoming the year of exploring poetry for me. This book will enhance my understanding and experience as I continue my journey..
Many, many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this book in exchange for an honest review. I found it to be a special book.