Other Men's Flowers: An Anthology of Poetry

Other Men's Flowers: An Anthology of Poetry

Other Men's Flowers: An Anthology of Poetry

Other Men's Flowers: An Anthology of Poetry

Excerpt

'I have gathered a posie of other men's flowers and nothing but the thread that binds them is my own.' So wrote Montaigne; and I have borrowed his title, my memory being the binding thread.

This is a purely personal anthology. I have read much poetry; and since I had once a very retentive memory for verse much has remained in my head. I have had less opportunity to read poetry during these late years of war. When I do so, I find that I read the old favourites rather than fresh poets or poems; so that with failing memory it is unlikely that I shall acquire much more by heart. It amused me lately to set down in a notebook--mainly with a view to discussion with my son, who shares my liking for poetry-- the poems I could repeat entire or in great part. I have now collected and arranged the poems I set down. I did it with no idea of publication, but my son and others have suggested that the collection might appeal to a wider circle.

I ask no one to applaud my choice. I do not always applaud it myself, but a part of me from which I cannot dissociate myself, my memory, has made this selection and I am too old to alter it. On the whole I think it is a reasonable choice from the almost inexhaustible treasure of English poetry, for a workaday man who prefers plain gold, silver or metal work to elaborate jewellery.

Browning and Kipling are the two poets whose work has stayed most in my memory, since I read them in impressionable youth. I have never regretted my choice. They have courage and humanity, and their feet are usually on the ground. G. K. Chesterton has the same qualities, with a more romantic and less practical strain; he has become my third favourite, and much of his verse is in my heart and my head; there also is much of Masefield, the poet of adventure and toil by land and sea. I have enjoyed the poetry of those who have their eyes on the stars, like Keats and Shelley, without memorizing much of it. Wordsworth's and Tennyson's verses have never registered an impression on my memory, they seem to me to belong to a limbo which is earthy without being quite human and star-gazing without being inspired. Some of the Elizabethans, and Blake and Francis Thompson, have left in my brain clear traces of . . .

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