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The 100 best love poems. (Poetry).

POCKELL, Leslie, ed. The 100 best love poems. Warner. 128p. index. c2003. 0-446-69022-8. $9.95.


As Pockell states in her introduction, these poems range from "idealistic romanticism to passionate sensuality." They include the ancient poets and the modern and most major language groups. The editor seems to favor the classic love poems over the more modern, perhaps because it's easier to discern what a love poem is with the older ones. There is only one poem per poet. Each poem is introduced with a one-paragraph background commentary. This collection is heavy on the classics, such as Shakespeare's "Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day" (parodied on the facing page by Howard Moss's poem of the same name), Robert Burns' "A Red, Red Rose" is still fresh and melodic. For modern verse, e.e. cummings displays his unique parenthetical lines in "I Carry Your Heart With Me," a tender tribute to his love. The collection would not be complete without the Romantic poets. Byron's "She Walks In Beauty" is still as dramatic as on the first reading.

Love includes all the real, often petty resentments that must be swept aside in its name, as Kenneth Fearing so aptly illustrates in "Love 20 Cents the First Quarter Mile." In some poems, the pure beauty of the line adds profundity to expressions of love, as in Neruda's "I Do Not Love You": "I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,/ in secret, between the shadow and the soul." The illicit nature of some love relationships is revealed in Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's "Between Your Sheets," a yearning by an 18th-century woman ahead of her time. Tragedy, of course, is inherent in many love matches, so evident here in the facing poems of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, both describing the transformational quality of love.

This concise volume can be a great resource for study because of the variety of styles and forms from the colloquial to the arcane. At least one collection of love poetry should be in every library. Who, at some time in her life, doesn't need a love poem? Sue E. Budin, YA Libn., Ann Arbor P.L., Ann Arbor, MI
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Author:Budin, Sue E.
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jul 1, 2003
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