Golden Treasury of the Best Songs and Lyrical Poems in the English Language: New Ed.

Francis T. Palgrave, Editor, John Press, Editor, Francis Turner Palgrave, Selected by Oxford University Press, USA $35 (720p) ISBN 978-0-19-254202-1
First published in 1860, Palgrave's Golden Treasury remains one of the finest selections of British lyrical verse. In this expanded sixth edition, Press, a translator and poet (A Girl with Beehive Hair), brings the classic anthology up to date. Beginning, appropriately, with the Renaissance, Palgrave includes pieces from Wyatt to Shakespeare, though only one poem by George Herbert. Book Two, spanning the latter 80 years of the 17th century, sadly omits Herrick's ``The Vine,'' and the randy Rochester is left out altogether. It's futile to nit-pick with Palgrave, however, and his original four books, accompanied by notes, usher us smartly into the 1800s. Picking up where Christopher Ricks's fifth edition left off, Press situates contemporary British and Irish poets, many of them still alive, firmly inside the tradition. Here, weighing in with the Old Masters, are Philip Larkin, Seamus Heaney and others whose work favorably weathers the juxtaposition. Also included are Eavan Boland, Thom Gunn, Fleur Adcock, James Fenton and Derek Mahon: poets of such command that much American poetry seems anemic by comparison. An anthology can never replace an in-depth reading of the individual poets; it can, though, serve as a canny guide for further exploration. Despite the countless anthologies emerging every year, Palgrave's is still the measuring stick, and Press's additions assure that it will remain so into the new millennium. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!