I did not love every poem in this collection; in fact, there were quite a few that I found too pretentious, too opaque, or too boring. But there were also some amazing works, and the volume introduced me to several new poets, as well as reminding me of some I had forgotten about. I also enjoyed reading each poet's comments on why he (and it is almost always he
) had chosen that particular piece for inclusion. Like the poems themselves, some of the poets were pretentious, obscure, or self-indulgent, but many were insightful, clever, or humorous.
My favorite new discoveries were Frost's "Choose Something Like a Star" -- a perfect choice to open the collection -- MacLeish's "Words in Time," Robert Francis' "Hallelujah," Philip Levine's "for Fran," and Cunningham's "Epitaph," which I include here as he has others with similar titles (most famously the very brief Naked I came, naked I leave the scene,/And naked was my pastime in between.)
When I shall be without regret
And shall mortality forget,
When I shall die who lived for this,
I shall not miss the things I miss.
And you who notice where I lie
Ask not my name. It is not I.