Library of World Poetry and V-Day Giveaway Winners

by Rachel Baker on February 14, 2009

Masters Library, Library Of World Poetry, Being Choice Selections from the Best Poets, With an Introduction by William Cullen Bryant. Published by Amaranth Press 1970. Copyright 1970, ISBN 0808163124. Includes both Steel and Wood Engravings inside.This morning as I picked the winners of the Valentine’s Day giveaway, I had a reason to pull out an old favorite book of mine.  When I was in my pre-teens, a friend of the family gave me the Library of World Poetry bound in leather. (I hear you…why in the world would a pre-teen like that as a gift?!) My mother had lots of little poetry books lying around, and I would pour over them, when she wasn’t looking.  Reading aloud, ingesting the sentiment, ponder the ideas that had been written in iambic pentameter, or no punctuation stanzas.

My mother had a diverse collection and it was wonderful!  Shakespeare, e.e. cummings, Robert Frost, Thomas Hardy, Lord Byron and many many more. I didn’t really understand what any of these wonders of the world whom I knew could say so much with so few words were trying to convey…but I knew I loved them all.  When I got the Library of World Poetry somewhere around this time period in my life, I remember pouring over it, underlining the titles of poems I liked, poems that spoke to me, evoked a childish emotion.  Unfortunately, when I got to high school, and poetry was a “requirement” to get through the class, it seemed much less intriguing.  I put the Library of World Poetry on my shelf for safe keeping.

This book has traveled all around the country and throughout the many different adventures in my life, without so much as a dedicated perusal by me.  Sad, really, but its been like that favorite childhood stuffed toy, stashed away in a box in mom’s attic, because you nor she could bear to get rid of something that meant so much.

This morning, I cracked the book open again.  I imagine if books made noise, I’d have heard a long thankful sigh.  Then there would have been some conversation:

LWP:  :long thankful sigh:  OH!  The Joy!  The Rapture!  I thought you’d never come back!
Me: Aww, you know how it is, I never forgot you, I just, well, you know, got busy with novels and stuff.
LWP: What was the point of throwing me in a box every few years, like an old piece of clothing you can’t bear to get rid of because you might one day be able to fit back into them… :tone is a bit angry:
Me:  I’m so sor…wait!  Have you been talking to the holy jeans?!  How could you possibly know about that?!
LWP:  Its okay, Dear, we do understand – and we’ve been very thankful you’ve classified us as your favorites and always have a special box for us.
Me: Am I really having this conversation?  And why do you sound like Angela Lansbury?
LWP: Do you not remember you used to watch Murder She Wrote with me cracked open on your lap?
Me: I’d forgotten about that (wistfully).  I never really liked Murder She Wrote, but I liked hearing her voice in the background while I was trying to read you.
LWP:  I did too.  Aw such wonderful times for a book of my caliber.  I am dying to know what’s taken you so long, but I’d rather you just read, and let me look up at the wonderful look on your face as you find your old friends in my pages.
Me: I’d like that…
LWP:  Stay as long as you’d like.  Come back often.  Find that love you once had so many years ago. Really seeing you again…it seems like just yesterday.  I’ve missed you so. You were so young, so full of new ideas, everything was a wonder to you.  I’m curious to know how you’ve changed. Promise me, you’ll read aloud, ingest the sentiment of the words on my pages. Be twelve again, but with your thirty-four years of experience!  I am here to help you find that joy you once found in me.
Me: Thank you, my old friend.  I may not stay long this time, but I promise, I will be back often. 

And I caress the spine, I deeply inhale the smell of the pages, and I wistfully look at the table of contents. Page 55 – the section of love poems.  That’s where I’m going.

And to my surprise, the poems I’d underlined when I was twelve, still speak to me!

My True-Love Hath My Heart.
by Sir Philip Sidney

My true-love hath my heart, and I have his,
By just exchange one to the other given :
I hold his dear, and mine he cannot iss,
There never was a better bargain driven :
My true-love hath my heart, and I have his.

His heart in me keeps him and me in one ;
My heart in him his thoughts and senses guide :
He love my heart, for once it was his own ;
I cherish his because in me it bides :
My true-love hath my heart, and I have his.

I did not remember I liked this poem – I did not remember I even knew this poem.  As I looked through the book, I realized, I’d underlined in both blue pen and pencil.  I remember thinking for some reason, pencil was more important, because I only used pen if a pencil was not around.  If I used pencil then it was because I was immersing myself in the words. I’d sat down to ‘study’, to learn, to absorb – armed with my favorite tool.  This one, in pencil.

The other poem I read this morning to share with you is Elizabeth Brownings’ Sonnets from the Portuguese.  In my wonderfully thick friend (LWP), there are thirteen sonnets are all grouped together under one title, ending with the ever popular “How do I love the? Let me count the ways.” Apparently, this one is Number 43.  There are forty-four. I implore you – Read them all together. I’m not sure I can find enough great adjectives to string together to accurately discribe the experience for me. Here’s a link with all forty-four.

I’ve closed the book for now, but will visit again very soon.  I’ve remembered my first ventures into the world of poetry.  I’ve remembered the wonder and awe of so much meaning in so few words.

As usual, this turned out to be much longer than I originally sat down to write.  But I wanted to thank YOU for a wonderful reason to visit an old friend – probably the oldest on my bookshelf that was actually mine and not bought used.

Now you know my favorite love poems. For the giveaway, I asked you to tell me either your favorite poem or your favorite song.  Some of you picked one or the other, some of you gave me both.  If you will bear with me just a tiny bit longer, I’m going to follow up my favorite poetry with my favorite love song – I think its only fair.  My favorite song was written by a dear friend of mine, and its called Madly In Luv Wif U.  I’m not sure he’d want me to post an mp3 of it, so I’m going to err on the side of “probably not”.  But, its an amazing song with powerful lyrics.  Each time I hear it, my eyes begin to leak.

AND without further ado, the Winners of the Valentine Day Giveaway are:

Suzy:  Her favorites are:
THE KISS by Thomas Hardy
love song – Lemonade by Chris Rice
Billy Collins: Marginalia


lazydaisy0413: Her favorite song is:
Babe by Styx

Congratulations to you both!  and thank you to everyone else who participated.  You all have wonderful favorites.  I smiled at each and ever comment, sang the songs in my head, and read the lines of poetry you shared.  This was a fun passive interactive giveaway…thank you all!

Edition of The Library of World Poetry: Library Of World Poetry, With an Introduction by William Cullen Bryant. Published by Amaranth Press 1970. Copyright 1970, ISBN 0808163124. Includes both Steel and Wood Engravings inside.

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