Monday, February 23, 2009

Why the Old Ones are the Best Ones

I am a great fan of Salt Publishing's lovely slim hardbacks, so I'm very tempted by their new range of pocket classics, starting with slim little collections from Emily Bronte, Christina Rossetti and John Keats, three of my favourite poets. Although you can easily get a cheap selected or collected, a nice edition is, well...nice. Far better in many ways than those "thrift" editions that sit uncomfortably on my poetry shelves. There's also something to be said for a wise guide through a poet's work; Faber did a similar thing a few years back with memorably results, particularly when extracting from a difficult poet like Pound, or a prolific one like Auden. I get lost in my authoritative Whitman, overwhelmed by my complete Dickinson, and despair at ever finding a decent selected Tennyson or Wordsworth. Not that Bronte, Rossetti or Keats were ever the most prolific - but still, there's a lot to be said for a careful filleting of even their work. Chris Hamilton-Emery who chose the selections finds room for La Belle Dame Sans Merci in the Keats selection, as well as On First Looking into Chapman's Homer, so no complaints from this corner on the selection. It will be interesting to see how wide the selection grows. A lovely Donne, or a careful Herbert perhaps, a pointed Shelley or a brilliant Byron.

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