I suppose I have no expertise which enables me to claim that The Poets Laureate Anthology [811.5 POE] contains the crème de la crème of American poetry of the past 70 years. But, in my opinion, if you're looking for just one book filled with awesome poetry, this is it!
The Anthology was produced in association with the Library of Congress, the agency responsible for the appointment of United States Poet Laureate. It was edited by Elizabeth Hun Schmidt, who also wrote the introductions to each of the poets.
The hefty tome (762 pages) contains 43 poets laureate; the volume was produced before the appointment of our latest poet laureate, Philip Levine. Of the 43 poets, five of them hail from New Hampshire--Charles Simic, Donald Hall, Maxine Kumin, Richard Eberhart, and Robert Frost! Is that impressive or what?
Here's one of NH's honored poets, Richard Eberhart:
Gnat on My Paper
He has two antennae,
They search back and forth,
Left and right, up and down.
He has four feet,
He is exploring what I write now.
This is a living being,
Is this a living poem?
His life is a quarter of an inch.
I could crack him any moment now.
Now I see he has two more feet,
Almost too delicate to examine.
He is still sitting on this paper,
An inch away from An.
Does he know who I am,
Does he know the importance of man?
He does not know or sense me,
His antennae are still sensing.
I wonder if he knows it is June,
The world in its sensual height?
How absurd to think
That he never thought of Plato.
He is satisfied to sit on this paper,
For some reason he has not flown away.
Small creature, gnat on my paper,
Too slight to be given a thought,
I salute you as the evanescent,
I play with you in my depth.
What, still there? Still evanescent?
You are my truth, that vanishes.
Now I put down this paper,
He has flown into the infinite.
He could not say it.
Poets' talents lie in bringing the inconsequential to life and making the reader recognize the connections between us.
This week the Poetry Friday Round-Up is taking place at Wild Rose Reader.