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What is great about an anthology like this is that you can feel reasonably sure that the poems are all "good" and have stood the test of time, so they might be worth reading -- maybe even a few times. By having a sampling, you can get a variety of styles and themes and perhaps better discover likes and dislikes in terms of poets and styles.
I, too, appreciate anything that provides poetry which is accessible and understandable, as so many of the works in this anthology are. Obviously we all have poems we like and those we like not so much; however, it is never a bad thing to be familiar with some classic works in American literature, poetry or not.
I enjoy some more than others, but I can appreciate all of the poems. I try to help my students understand that a poem is not "One Size Fits All" and that poets have different literary intents when they write, different literary purposes to accomplish, and/or different personal needs and feelings to express. Reading an imagist poem while expecting a ballad is sure to disappoint. As for "The Red Wheelbarrow," I always look forward to the day it is first encountered in class. The initial looks on my students' faces are entertaining, and spirited discussions always ensue!
I enjoy poetry just for poetry. This anthology is a good collection with wide and varied interests and types of poetry. The idea is to find something in this collection that would appeal to everyone. Robert Frost, Pablo Neruda, Shakespeare, Donne, and Poe are among my favorites. Eliot is difficult, but I've learned to appreciate "The Wasteland" and "The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock" through the insights and observations of my students.
I think this anthology gives a reasonable range of poems. With its title it is obviously only going to give us a "flavour" of the poems that represent the wealth of American poetry, and on that basis, I think it does a good job.
It really depends on which poems we are talking about.
For example, I think that "The Red Wheelbarrow" by William Carlos Williams is just weird -- it does not seem to have any meaning. I have never been able to get through "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" either.
I tend to like more straightforward stuff. I like the Robert Frost poems that are in this book pretty well. The same goes for much of the Dickinson stuff. For whatever reason, those two poets make me think without seeming too strange to me.
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