The world is going to end in fifteen minutes. I haven’t read your favorite poet, but I’d like to. Which poems should I read?
Having had this sprung on me, I’ve been ticking off my possible answers.
I get to Anglo-Saxon, and you’ve only got fifteen minutes, but yes,no problem. Middle English; no problem.Anonymous;indeedy.
Even childhood friends like Yeats and Service and Kipling.
I can even do this exercise with poets whose work I don’t feel any affection for but whose poems I acknowledge as good.
But then what happens with Graves? My favourite poems may not convince you of his quality. “They Flee from me” followed by “Whoso List to Hunt” and “Blame Not My Lute” will sell Wyatt. But “Flying Crooked”, “Counting the Beats", “The White Goddess” Incident at …..and any of the moon poems may not work.
I know the theory, that my reactions to individual poets and poems are based on psychological and experiential factors but while that may account for the slide
from knowing something is good to it having a long term personal significance, it doesn’t account for the third move, where the poet and his or her work takes on the qualities of a long term friendship. With all the shifts and settling, the fallings out and fallings in, the baffled affection, irritations and love such a relationship involves?