I realized the other day, as I reopened Christopher Ricks's Oxford Book of English Verse – some 25 -30 poems a day, for a bit over a week now – that I was doing something for National Poetry Month, as silly an event as that is. Am I cynical? Maybe, but somehow it seems better for the soul to spend the month reading poems rather than churning them out.
I'm at the mid-17th-century now. I've found myself reminded of a great number of poems I'd entirely forgotten, & have been introduced to more than a few I hadn't read before. Connections get made: I'm reminded of how much LZ's short lyrics owe to the Cavalier poets – far more, in some ways, than they owe to WC Williams or anyone in his immediate vicinity. I'm amused by how Ricks seems to set his anthology up as a background guide for high modernism: while the only bit of The Waste Land anthologized is the lyric "Death by Water" (part IV), we're given the passage from Webster's White Devil quoted in "The Burial of the Dead" ("But keepe the wolfe far thence..."); no Pound, of course, but we do have Waller's "Go Lovely Rose" (cf. the "Envoi" to Hugh Selwyn Mauberley); and while there's no Lennon/McCartney, we have the lyric from Dekker's Patient Grissell that became "Golden Slumbers."
And I'm reminded that Bishop King's "Exequy" is really one of the loveliest, saddest poems of all:
My last Good-night! Thou wilt not wake
Till I Thy Fate shall overtake:
Till age, or grief, or sicknes must
Marry my Body to that Dust
It so much loves; and fill the roome
My heart keepes empty in Thy Tomb.
Stay for mee there; I will not faile
To meet Thee in that hollow Vale.