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  • Sonnets
  • Edited by John Hollander
  • Format: Hardcover | ISBN: 9780375411779
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Sonnets

From Dante to the Present

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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

"A sonnet is a moment's monument," said Dante Gabriel Rossetti in a sonnet about sonnets.

The sonnets in this collection—whether they capture moments of perception, recognition, despair, or celebration—reveal how great an amount of feeling, insight, and experience can be concentrated into a mere fourteen lines.

Here are classics such as Milton's "On His Blindness," Yeats's "Leda and the Swan," and Frost's "The Oven Bird," juxtaposed with the mischievous wit of Rupert Brooke's "Sonnet Reversed," the lyric defiance of Mona Van Duyn's "Caring for Surfaces," and the comic poignancy of Philip Larkin's "To Failure." From the lovelorn laments of Dante and Petrarch to the artful heights of Sidney, Spenser, and Shakespeare, from the masterpieces of Wordsworth and Keats to the innovations of Elizabeth Bishop, Wallace Stevens, and James Merrill, the sonnet has proved both versatile and enduring.

This delightful anthology displays the incredible range and power of the verse form that has inspired poets across the centuries.

Excerpt

Sonnet #116

William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments: love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
Oh no! It is an ever-fixèd mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.


 
October

Helen Hunt Jackson

Bending above the spicy woods which blaze,
Arch skies so blue they flash, and hold the sun
Immeasurably far; the waters run
Too slow, so freighted are the river-ways
With gold of elms and birches from the maze
Of forests. Chestnuts, clicking one by one,
Escape from satin burs; her fringes done,
The gentian spreads them out in sunny days,
And, like late revelers at dawn, the chance
Of one sweet, mad, last hour, all things assail,
And conquering, flush and spin; while, to enhance
The spell, by sunset door, wrapped in a veil
Of red and purple mists, the summer, pale,
Steals back alone for one more song and dance.
John Hollander

About John Hollander

John Hollander - Sonnets

Photo © Jerry Bauer

John Hollander is the author of seventeen previous books of poetry. His first, A Crackling of Thorns, was chosen by W. H. Auden as the 1958 volume in the Yale Series of Younger Poets. He has written eight books of criticism, including the award-winning Rhyme’s Reason: A Guide to English Verse and The Work of Poetry, and edited or coedited twenty-two collections, among them The Oxford Anthology of English Literature, American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century, and (with Anthony Hecht, with whom he shared the Bollingen Prize in Poetry in 1983) Jiggery-Pokery: A Compendium of Double Dactyls.

Mr. Hollander attended Columbia and Indiana Universities and was a Junior Fellow of the Society of Fellows of Harvard University. He has taught at Connecticut College and Yale, and was a professor of English at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, CUNY. He is currently Sterling Professor emeritus of English at Yale. In 1990 he received a MacArthur Fellowship .

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