What are the most heavenly poems in all of literature?
Who deserves a place in heaven? And what is heaven like? Contemplating the former question and imagining an answer to the latter has occupied many a poet’s mind down the ages. Here are ten of the very best poems about heaven…
Dante, The Divine Comedy. Composed in the early fourteenth century, Dante’s Divine Comedy is a trilogy of poems charting the poet’s journey from hell (Inferno) through Purgatory (Purgatorio) to heaven (Paradiso), guided by his fellow poet, Virgil. Featuring lakes of filth and farting demons, it’s much more fun than its theological subject might suggest, and it influenced a whole raft of later poets, especially T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound. It’s even been called the ‘fifth Gospel’, so clearly and effectively does Dante detail the medieval view of Christianity. Specifically, the final part of the trilogy, Paradiso, is of particular interest here, where the poet is guided by his muse, Beatrice, to heaven. Read the rest of this entry
W. B. Yeats (1865-1939) wrote ‘Easter 1916’ in the summer of 1916, shortly after the Easter Rising in Dublin and when the events were still fresh in the memory. Yeats’s feelings towards the rising – more details about which can be read here – since he deplored violence (in most cases) as a way of achieving Irish independence from the British. In ‘Easter 1916’, Yeats refers to a number of key figures in the struggle for Irish independence, although without naming them, so the poem requires a bit of analysis and context.
I have met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey
I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe Read the rest of this entry
In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle pores over some poetry that’s so bad it’s good
A short while ago, I wrote about Nicholas T. Parsons’ very witty and erudite study of poetasters, The Joy of Bad Verse. In that post, I mentioned the book that might be considered the Golden Treasury of doggerel, The Stuffed Owl: An Anthology of Bad Verse (Everyman’s Classics). This anthology of bad poetry, which was first published in 1930, is full of examples of poetry that’s ‘so bad it’s good’, so I wanted to share some of my favourite examples.
In his preface to the first edition of The Stuffed Owl, D. B. Wyndham Lewis points out that ‘Bad Verse has its canons, like Good Verse’, and that the selection of the ‘best’ bad verse is a task as onerous and difficult as the challenge of choosing the cream of the crop for inclusion in a ‘traditional’ anthology. Bad verse in itself is not amusing or entertaining, and verse that is bad in such a way as to be distinctive is hard to come by. Indeed, he goes on to argue that ‘good Bad Verse has an eerie, Read the rest of this entry