by E.O. Parrott
"Wake from out my midnight ramble.
Life is just a massive gambol."
- Bill Greenwell (after Dylan Thomas)
This wonderful book is both an anthology of poetry and an introduction to poetic forms. Apparently it is one of a series of similar literary compilations, all edited by Mr. Parrot. He spent many years as a teacher of English and General Studies, and reminds me of the character Hector in Alan Bennett's play, The History Boys, because of his eclectic taste as demonstrated in this book (and presumably his other collections).
Useful as a reference through the inclusion of all known poetic forms and not a few unknown (to me), it is a review for those, like myself, that are rusty on the details of the form of poetry if not the substance. While rhyming and meter and stanzas are encountered there are sections of poetic fancies, light verse, terse verse and more. The forms are demonstrated in all manner of ways, one being the parody like that in the epigraph above that mocks the famous "Fern Hill" of Dylan Thomas.
The chapters begin with a selection of poems whose subject is poetry itself, with verses like:
"Poetry the pleasure
Madness and treasure."
"So remember: the poetic Muse
It is a sure-fire cure for the blues;
A verse a day
Keeps the hearse away."
This should provide brief evidence that poetry can be fun for all who love words or at least wonder about them. The delight is in learning about the form and being of poetry while experiencing rhymes from a gathering of contemporary poets who provide exceptionally entertaining evidence of the magic of verse. Often with tongue-in-cheek he gathers poems and poetic bits of verse with both demonstration and entertainment in mind. The result is a book of poetry presented in its most entertaining form. For that and for the inspirational value to encourage me to expand my poetry horizons I am grateful.
If you like the classics or Proust you may find the following "Distichs" delightful:
"A tea-soaked madeleine consumed by Proust,
Mon Dieu! What recollections that unloosed."
"She launched a thousand ships, no less, from little craft to whalers;
You'd say that Helen must have got on very well with sailors."
- Stanley Sharpless
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