The Poets’ Corner Review
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You may recognize him from Third Rock from the Sun, but you may not know that John Lithgow is a huge fan of poetry. For his book, The Poets’ Corner: The One-and-Only Poetry Book for the Whole Family, Lithgow has compiled an assortment of wonderful poems. He points out that the only two things these 50 poets have in common is that they wrote in English and that their work survives them.

Lithgow gives the reader insight into the lives of each poet without going overboard with biographical details. He just gives enough information to help the reader understand the poet. He includes at least one poem from each poet and provides his own personal analysis on the poem, but he doesn’t go overboard with this, either. Of course, after I read his description, I had to go back and re-read the poem, so I could get even more enjoyment from it. Lithgow also provides a list of his favorite poems from each poet and some further resources or quotes from the poet. A quick search on the Internet will help you find more of those poems—many of which are read by the authors themselves.

I enjoyed reading more familiar poems such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways” and Lord Byron’s “She walks in beauty.” Other poems, such as Gwendolyn Brooks’s “We Real Cool” and Edward Lear’s “The Owl and the Pussy-Cat” captured my interest with their unique styles. In fact, I enjoyed Lear’s poem so much that I’m now hunting for his book, A Book of Nonsense. It’s also impressive that readers can still enjoy a poem from Geoffrey Chaucer that was written six hundred years ago. And you can’t leave Shakespeare out of a book of poems. After all, he wrote more than just plays.

From Matthew Arnold to Marianne Moore to William Butler Yeats, John Lithgow’s The Poets’ Corner is a pleasure to read, from start to finish.

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