821. Books on English poetry
W. H. Auden Nones, 1951.
W.H. Auden was an Anglo-American poet who wrote on political, cultural, and psychological themes in addition to love poems. After growing up in England, he travelled for a while before moving to the United States in 1939. He was also known for his prose essays and his work on plays and documentary films. This collection contains many of his shorter poems.
John Drury Music at Midnight: The Life and Poetry of George Herbert, 2013.
Anglican priest John Drury narrates the life of George Herbert, the 17th-century poet who wrote beautiful poems mostly on the divine, but also on all facets of life, none of which were published in his lifetime. While he was born to the aristocracy and showed interest and promise in a public career at court, he ultimately devoted himself to his local church.
Seamus Heaney North, 1975.
Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet Seamus Heaney used his poetry to create a myth that relayed his vision of Ireland and the collective effect of the violence it endured from Scandinavian and British invasions over the centuries.
Ted Hughes Crow: From the Life and Songs of the Crow, 1970.
Ted Hughes, a prolific British poetry and prose writer for children and adults, intended this book as a comeback after the suicide of his first wife, Sylvia Plath. In it, he used his despair to write about how nature and its forces conspire to make our lives a series of challenges that threaten to undo us.
Edward Lear Nonsense Songs, 1871.
If you know nothing else about Edward Lear, you are probably familiar with his “Owl and the Pussycat.” He’s been beloved by generations of children. My Granny, born in 1901, recited his verses to me when I was a small child.
Miranda Seymour In Byron’s Wake: The Turbulent Lives of Lord Byron’s Wife and Daughter: Annabella Milbanke and Ada Lovelace, 2018.
The progressive Annabella Milbanke had the misfortune of marrying celebrated poet Lord Byron, but she had the honour of being the mother of Ada Lovelace, who was the only child of their union. The brilliant Ada grew up to become a mathematical genius of great promise who died at a young age. Miranda Seymour tells their story here.
Gordon Teskey The Poetry of John Milton, 2021.
Scholar Gordon Tesky writes of John Milton’s poetic vision. He shares what makes Milton’s poems and his vision great. After William Shakespeare, he is widely considered England’s greatest poet.
Helen Vendler The Art of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, 1999.
Widely-respected professor Helen Vendler interprets and comments on Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets.
William Wordsworth The Prelude: A Parallel Text, 1850.
The Prelude is considered the greatest poem of William Wordsworth, one of England’s greatest Romantic poets. The W. W. Norton Company edition of the book, published in 1979, presents the poem in three separate forms. The first is as it was initially published in 1805. It’s followed by the version of the poem published after the author’s death in 1850. Finally, there is a two-part version of it that was composed in 1798-1799. All together, they give a glimpse at a great poet’s continuing revision of his most important work.
W. B. Yeats Autobiographies, 1926.
Irish poet and playwright William Butler Yeats wrote six autobiographical works and published them at the same time in the mid-1930s. In them, he chronicles his life up to age 58. In addition to his writings, Yeats was noted for his Irish nationalism and his interest in the occult.
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