In a program which includes successive ""treasuries"" of art, letters, etc. this Treasury of Great Poems stands out as, perhaps, the best creative job of all, though, in all probability, not so big a seller as Treasury of Art Masterpieces, partly because it has less of the gift book appeal, partly because there are more competitors in the field. It cannot he sold as the anthology to end all anthologies, for it is a distinctively personal selection, thereby adding to its charm for me, since I happen to go along with Mr. Untermayer, nine times out of ten, in his whole theory of poetry. But it has one big selling point as against other anthologies, -- it is history of literary trends, it is biography of figures in the field of poetry, it is brief pen pictures of period and setting, it is interpretative where interpretation is in order. And, of course, it is a super collection of verse, covering six centuries, and including about 1000 poems written in the English language. It is a book about poetry and poets as well as a collection of poems, so classified, so arranged, so titled (in many instances out of Untermayer's own appreciation of the ""tag line"" as the public has given a poem or a passage), that it can be used as a reference book, as a concentrated one volume course in the history of English poetry, or as a book for savoring, sampling and enjoying at the moment. It combines old and new (and often brings one up with a start in realizing how frequently phrases in common speech stem from poetry generations old). From well-known and neglected poets alike he has chosen what he considers the best. He has some surprises, both of inclusion and exclusion -- but what anthologist has not. And he inspires the reader with the contagion of his own enthusiasm. The publishers have prepared a program to back this book along the lines of the others in the series, circulars almost guaranteeing the bookseller in advance a substantial build-up of orders, advertising, promotion. Between the publishers and the editor one is readily convinced that ""what the poet has to say to his fellows in particularly needed in these toppling times"".
Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1942
Page Count: -
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1942
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