204. (John Donne)

An exemplary poem by Donne, “The Expiration”: So, so breake off this last lamenting kisse,      Which sucks two soules, and vapours Both away,  Turne thou ghost that way, and let mee turne this,      And let our selves benight our happiest day,  We ask’d none leave to love; nor will we owe      Any, so cheape a death, as saying, Goe;  Goe; and if … Continue reading 204. (John Donne)

186. (Tim Vallence)

The following is a poem by Tim Vallence, a former teacher and friend. It was recently published in the journal Southerly; I reproduce it here from a manuscript. Tim Vallence died in 2016. The title is “Balliang,” the name of a locality in Victoria, Australia. . the tall breaking black silos in dark twilight like dark gapped teeth so quiet the breath of wind plays out … Continue reading 186. (Tim Vallence)

170. (Eugenio Montale)

A second in a series of readings of poems by Eugenio Montale, from his collection La Bufera e altro.  Here, from the fifth selection of the collection, “Silvae,” is the poem ” ‘Ezekiel Saw the Wheel’.” The original title is an English quotation, alluding, believes William Arrowsmith, whose translation I consult, to a African-American slave spiritual. Arrowsmith’s translation: Was it you, strange hand, that snatched me from … Continue reading 170. (Eugenio Montale)

168. (Eugenio Montale)

I’m going to devote a few posts to readings of Montale’s poems from La Bufera e altro, Montale’s 1956 collection that I would be my 20th-century desert-island poetry selection. The collection was written during the backdrop and in the aftermath of World War Two; Montale was from Florence but spent time also in Milan. Many of the poems are addressed to a female presence–Clizia, sometimes called … Continue reading 168. (Eugenio Montale)

124. (Ishion Hutchinson)

Some poets have more to say than others; some poets have better resource than others for saying what they want to say; Ishion Hutchinson is the rare poet who falls into both categories, and is even rarer for having the ambition to speak with authority. His collection Far District is as good as any contemporary poetry out there, and it’s exciting to read him as … Continue reading 124. (Ishion Hutchinson)

123. (Henry King)

Henry King (1592-1669), Bishop of Chichester, lived through one of the most turbulent eras of British history, sustained friendships with leading figures in politics and letters, and wrote some of the finest elegies of his age. He is not much read nowadays, but his elegy for his wife, “An Exequy to His Matchless Never to be Forgotten Friend,” is often anthologized, and his other poems … Continue reading 123. (Henry King)

122. (Percy Bysshe Shelley)

A poem by Shelley, with critical commentary following: When the lamp is shattered The light in the dust lies dead– When the cloud is scattered The rainbow’s glory is shed– When the lute is broken Sweet tones are remembered not– When the lips have spoken Loved accents are soon forgot. . As music and splendour Survive not the lamp and the lute, The heart’s echoes … Continue reading 122. (Percy Bysshe Shelley)