I have been reading Essential Pleasures: A New Anthology of Poems to Read Aloud, edited by Robert Pinksy. Readers will find plenty of old masterpieces here, such as Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold and Ulysses by Tennyson; but, as Pinsky says in his introduction: "I have also worked hard to come up with good poems that will be new to most readers."
I really liked Margaret Atwood's Variation on the Word Sleep, which I had never read before. Another poem which made a terrific impression on me was Allen Ginsberg's A Supermarket in California.
Originally uploaded by hyperscholar
Now here's a naughty poem that's mercifully brief and unabashedly physical.
Homage to My Hips
these hips are big hips
they need space to
move around in.
they don't fit into little
petty places, these hips
are free hips.
they don't like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips,
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top!
Compare that with this entrancing poem by Robert Herrick from the 17th century. It's artful and maybe even sexist but it's certainly witty and elegant.
Delight in Disorder
By Robert Herrick
A sweet disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness:
A lawn about the shoulders thrown
Into a fine distraction:
An erring lace, which here and there
Enthrals the crimson stomacher:
A cuff neglectful, and thereby
Ribbands to flow confusedly:
A winning wave, deserving note,
In the tempestuous petticoat:
A careless shoe-string, in whose tie
I see a wild civility:
Do more bewitch me than when art
Is too precise in every part.
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