Poems That Make You Cry

I cannot read Dylan Thomas’ poem, ‘Do not go gentle into that good night‘ without a lump in my throat. I read it at my father’s funeral, several years ago, so for me it has a personal context that retains its emotional impact. Many poems move me or touch my heartstrings, however, that have no such personal context, although I cannot recall the last time one moved me … (more–>)

Larry & Jerry’s Inferno

I had forgotten about this book until recently when I came across a reprint. I read it originally in the late 1970s when I was reading a lot more sci-fi than I do today. (Many years ago, I ran a Toronto computer convention where I invited the authors to be the keynote speakers. I got to spend many hours and a memorable dinner with them.) I finished … (more–>)

Cold Mountain Poems

I first became aware of the Tang dynasty poet, Han Shan, in the late 1960s, when I was engrossed in reading the poets of the earlier Beat generation. It was at that time that, through them, I started to discover and explore Western Buddhism – as it was adapted and represented through their experiences and words. I eagerly read everything by Alan Watts and Jack Kerouac, … (more–>)

The Hunting of the Snark

I’ve always wondered why Lewis Carroll’s wonderful poem, The Hunting of the Snark – an Agony in Eight Fits – has never been redone, rewritten in a modern version, with modern references and people. It seems to lend itself to revision, at least to my eyes. Perhaps it’s because this sort of whimsical, satirical poem is not popular these days (it was written between 1874 and 76, a … (more–>)

The difficult art of reading poetry

Synecdoche. Metonymy. Not exactly words that trip lightly off the tongue. Unless, I suppose, you’re Harold Bloom. Those are two of the four fundamental tropes in literature, Bloom tells us. Identified originally by Kenneth Burke, who, as Bloom calls him, was a “profound student of rhetoric.” Bloom references Burke in his introduction to The Best Poems of the English Language (Harper Collins, 2004), which he both … (more–>)

Spoon River: Smith, Goodman and Masters

VERY well, you liberals, And navigators into realms intellectual, You sailors through heights imaginative, Blown about by erratic currents, tumbling into air pockets, You Margaret Fuller Slacks, Petits, And Tennessee Claflin Shopes— You found with all your boasted wisdom How hard at the last it is To keep the soul from splitting into cellular atoms. While we, seekers of earth’s treasures, Getters and hoarders of gold, … (more–>)

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