Dear Messrs. Harold Pinter, Geoffrey Godbert, and Anthony Astbury:
Good day, sirs!
Just a few hours ago, I finished reading your collection. I found the book at a book fair and decided that I would buy it for the sake of change. I read mostly novels and short stories. And while I enjoy poems, I’ve never really owned a book dedicated to it.
Frankly, I would never have bought the book because of the front cover. Neither front nor back enticed me to flip through it. The art doesn’t speak nor scream poetry. Maybe that’s a personal inclination. But even with the claim that it is a Nobel Prize winner, I’d still put it down. Yet I needed poetry in my life. So I gambled.
And I believe I won.
How I love that you included Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky. It induced such nostalgia while I was on the train. And the first new author (to me) whose work I immediately loved was Barnabe Googe’s The oftener seen, the more I lust. Despite being such a short piece, it spoke so much to me. And there’s John Hoskins’ Absence, hear my protestation. Looks like I have a theme going, haven’t I?
While I do love poems, I am more inclined to read those that include narratives and not just declarations. Thomas Gray—who I discovered because of a children’s book about a cat named after the author—and his On Lord Holland’s Seat Near Margate, Kent was beautiful but not as captivating as Rudyard Kipling’s The Gods of the Copybook Headings. The latter was a joy to read and reread; even in a loud crowd, I could still hear my quiet voice and the words of Mr. Kipling.
One question: why is that a number of the chosen poems deal with Death and the dead? My theory would be that it’s one of the subjects that is terribly familiar to many, both authors and readers. And that it has impressed so many by its great influence, like that of Thomas Hardy’s An Upbraiding and George Manley Hopkins’ No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief.
If there was a poem that mystified me most, it has to Sir Walter Ralegh’s The Lie. I did not read it for entertainment, fun as it may be to do so. But I wanted to know what the lie is.
But the most surprising of all is the inclusion of Master William Shakespeare’s When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes. The poem is memorable to me because I picked out this advice from The Bard which I used immediately after reading the same piece in front of a class.
With all that said, I thank you for compiling the poems and having them published. It refreshed my soul.