Iliad

Homer. The Iliad. Translated by Robert Fitzgerald. New York: Everyman’s Library, 1992.

If there is one thing I cannot stand it’s writing a review for a classic, especially one that has been analyzed eight ways to Sunday. I mean, I honestly do not think I can add anything new or enlightening to what has already been said. Everyone knows the story of Achilles, right? Having said all that I wish I could pull out a quote from something I wrote in high school or even college. I’m sure I was much more profound in my narrow minded, get good grades, academic-driven youth. Probably the most meaningful element of The Iliad continues to be its grandeur. It is an epic poem of enormous scope with the dominant theme of mortality. According to most other reviewers, translation matters. Everyone has a favorite version. I honestly couldn’t say I felt one way or another about the Fitzgerald translation I read.

Reason read: April is National Poetry month.

Author fact: Homer was a speech writer. He excelled at persuasiveness.

Book trivia: The Iliad andThe Odyssey go hand in hand.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Poetry: A Novel Idea” (p 186).


“The Road Not Taken”

Frost, Robert. “the Road Not Taken.” The Road Not Taken and Other Poems.New York: Dover Publications, 1993.

This is such a simple poem with such a complex meaning! But, having said that, how many people have used this poem to explain the things that they have done; the decisions they have made? My uncle read this poem at his brother’s funeral. His message was clear – my father, seven years his junior, chose a much different path than him or even the rest of the family. My father chose love over money. Happiness over family. My uncle offered this poem as an explanation for why they weren’t close as brothers but I also think he was (finally) voicing how proud he was of that courageous decision “to take the road less traveled.” It’s the last line that drives the point home. It has made all the difference. I know it did in my father’s short life.

Reason read: National Poetry Month. Need I say more?

Author fact: Robert Frost is one of the best known, best loved poets. We also associate Frost with New England but he was born in California.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Travelers’ Tales in Verse” (p 237).


“In My Craft”

Thomas, Dylan. “In My Craft or Sullen Art.” The Poems of Dylan Thomas. New York: New Directions, 1971. p 196.

The fact that Dylan Thomas needed to justify why he put pen to paper absolutely astounds me. This poem is all about the explanation behind the craft of writing. Why he writes should not need justification. I’d rather hear about what makes him write; what drives him to create.
Can I just say I love the word ‘rage’ in any context? It implies such a raw passion.

Reason read: April = National Poetry Month.

Author fact: Thomas also wrote a book called Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog, a collection of sequential autobiographical stories. Not on my list.

Poetry trivia: Dylan’s “In My Craft or Sullen Art” was turned into a knitting. Word for word. Crazy.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Poetry Pleasers” (p 187).
Just a note, because I am proud of this – I am almost finished with this chapter of More Book Lust. Just one more poem and I will be finished with “Poetry Pleasers.” Amazing.


“The Long Hill”

Teasdale, Sara. “The Long Hill.” The Collected Poems of Sara Teasdale. Cutchogue, New York: Buccaneer Books, 1996. p 152.

“The Long Hill” made me laugh and scratch my head all at once. As an avid walker I know what it’s like to anticipate the crest of a hill, to look forward to arriving at the top, only to miss it. Not sensing the highest point defies logic. Surely one would know when he or she has reached it! You expect grandeur to be at the pinnacle. Sara just shrugs and says she might as well continue down.
But there is also contradiction to her poem. She describes the beaten track and yet the hem of her gown was getting caught on brambles. No wonder she missed the top. She was too busy trying to free her gown! And why wasn’t she walking the beaten track? Wouldn’t she has noticed the top of the long hill if she had been paying attention?

Reason read: another poem for National Poetry Month…

Author fact: Sara Teasdale writes a great deal about New York. I’ll be reading more of her material at a later date.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Travelers’ Tales in Verse” (p 237). This poem marks the end of the chapter.


“Mandalay”

Kipling, Rudyard. Mandalay. Rudyard Kipling’s Verse: Definitive Edition. New York: Doubleday and Company, 1940. p 416.

“Mandalay” is like a song with a chorus. It could easily be set to music. Even the subject matter, a soldier imagining his Burma girl pining away him, is appropriate for a ballad. He is still in lonely London. In my mind’s eye this poem is visually stunning.

Reason read: Poetry month. Need I say more?

Author fact: Kipling has long been a childhood favorite of mine. I can remember wanting to meet Mowgli just so I could hang out with the animals.

BookLust Twist: Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Travelers’ Tales in Verse” (p 237).


“Sea Fever”

Masefield, John. “Sea-Fever.” Salt Water Poems and Ballads. Illustrated by Chas. Pears. New York: The MacMillan Campany, 1916. p  55.

As a girl who grew up by the sea no, surrounded by the sea as only small island living can be, I loved everything about John Masefield’s Salt Water Poems and Ballads. The version I picked up was published in 1916 and had the inscription, “Evelyn, from Cerisi (?) Estelle – Christmas 1916.” Awesome. The illustrations are beautiful (my favorite is on page 73). The particular poem I was to read, “Sea Fever” evoked so many different memories for me. What comes across the strongest is there is a real need to be on the water; a need that cannot be denied. Just give me a ship the narrator cries. It’s all he needs. From that he hears the gull’s cry and tastes the salt wind.

Favorite line, “I must go down to the seas again.” Let me repeat it. I MUST go down to the seas again. Amen.

Reason read: Last time I checked April was National Poetry Month…still.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Travelers’ Tales in Verse’ (p 237).


“Lepanto”

Chesterton, Gilbert Keith. “Lepanto.” Louis Untermeyer, ed. Modern British Poetry. New York: Harcourt Brace & Howe, 1920.

The real Battle of Lepanto took place in 1571. Chesterton’s poem reads like an army marching to war even though the real battle was fought on the high seas. The cadence is like a chant and the words pulsate with feeling.  It’s a regular as the tide moving in and out.  Don John of Austria.

Favorite words, “dim drums throbbing.” Don’t you just love it? In urban times it would be someone honking their girl down from the apartment, a cranked up bass stuck in traffic a few miles away.

Reason read: April is National Poetry Month.

Author fact: G.K Chesterton was a journalist, a novelist, an essayist, a publicist, a lyricist, and a poet all in one.

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Travelers’ Tales in Verse” (p 237). Here, Pearl seemingly makes a mistake. She calls the poem “Lepants” when everything I’ve read called it “Lepanto.”