I am not going to claim that the sale of poetry books on bidorbuy rose significantly since it was announced that the poet-singer-songwriter Bob Dylan won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature.
However, I do want to make it known that week in, week out, a respectable number of books filled with verses find their way from the bidorbuy book section into the hands (and hearts) of readers.
If you hesitate to take up reading poetry because you don’t know where to start, perhaps I can entice you to sample my favourites.
Among the many excellent verses published in English language, the poems written by three Williams top my personal list.
The first is William Shakespeare. No eye-rolling, no exasperated arrrhg sounds now, please! Even if you refuse to get acquainted with Shakespeare’s plays, you will love his sonnets. Read the sonnets that start with these first lines: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day; Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments; My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun; and When to the sessions of sweet silent thought. You’ll be a Shakespeare fan forever. Promise.
William Blake is probably best known today for his Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. You’ll find it easy to figure out for yourself which of the following poems belong to “innocence” and which to “experience”: The Lamb; The Tiger; The Clod and the Pebble; Divine Image; Infant Joy; Infant Sorrow; The Blossom; Garden of Love and The Sick Rose.
Practically every poem written by William Butler Yeats will fill your soul with admiration for their exquisite beauty. My personal favourites include: Down by the Salley Gardens; Beautiful Lofty Things; No Second Troy; The Lake Isle of Innisfree; A Mermaid; Father and Child; Sailing to Byzantium; and An Irish Airman Foresees His Death.
Poetry is notoriously difficult to translate, but if you stick exclusively to verses written in English you will miss out on some great poets. Here are only two of the many that deserve your attention.
Francois Villon lived in the 15th century France, but his verses are just as gritty today as they were all those centuries ago. Some of his poems are: Rondeau; The Ballad of the Hanged Men; The Ballade of Fat Margo; and The Ballade of the Ladies of Times Past. That last one contains one of the most famous lines of translated poetry in English: “Where are the snows of yesteryear?”
Pablo Neruda is probably most cherished for his love poems. If you ever feel like you are lost for words to express your romantic feelings… reach for a book of poetry by Pablo Neruda. Particularly note these poems: Don’t Go Far Off; Your Laughter; Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines; as well as the following poem that’s short enough to be quoted whole and powerful enough to leave a lasting impression on your beloved:
But I love your feet
only because they walked
upon the earth and upon
the wind and upon the waters,
until they found me.
To return to this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature from the beginning of this post, I am sure that the very fact that he won the prestigious prize will prompt you to read Bob Dylan’s poetry. I shall therefore recommend another great poet-singer-songwriter, Leonard Cohen and his latest book of poetry entitled Book of Longing.
What is your favourite poem ever? Let us know on Twitter! Just include @bidorbuy_co_za in your tweet.
Literary works mentioned above were available on bidorbuy at the time of writing this post.