Essential Poems

12/15/22: Tonight, I read eleven essential poems from the American poet William Carlos Williams (1883-1963).

His poems can be found in The Collected Poems Volume I: 1909-1939The Collected Poems Volume II: 1939-1962, and Paterson.

The biographies I read from are Paul Mariani’s William Carlos Williams: A New World Naked, and the essay on Williams’ life at The Poetry Foundation

The poems I read are:

  • Pastoral (1917)
  • Danse Russe (1917)
  • Waiting (1921)
  • The Great Figure (1921)
  • The Red Wheelbarrow (1923)
  • Flowers by the Sea (first version) (1931)
  • War, the Destroyer! (1942)
  • Approach to a City (1946)
  • To a Dog Injured in the Street (1954)
  • Deep Religious Faith (1954)
  • from Asphodel, That Greeny Flower (1955)

11/14/22:Tonight I read ten essential poems from the American poet, Robert Lowell (1917-1977). They can all be found in his Collected Poems. His letters are collected in The Letters of Robert Lowell, Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop & Robert Lowell, and The Dolphin Letters, 1970-1979: Elizabeth Hardwick, Robert Lowell, and Their Circle. It’s been a while, but I remember enjoying Paul Mariani’s Lost Puritan: A Life of Robert Lowell.

  • · Memories of West Street & Lepke (from Life Studies, 1959)
  • · The Public Garden (from For the Union Dead, 1964)
  • · For the Union Dead (from For the Union Dead, 1964)
  • · History (from History, 1973)
  • · Bobby Delano (from History, 1973)
  • · Anne Dick I. 1936 (from History, 1973)
  • · For Robert Kennedy 1925-68 (from History, 1973)
  • · Marriage? (Hospital II., part 4) (from The Dolphin, 1973)
  • · Dolphin (from The Dolphin, 1973)
  • · Epilogue (from Day by Day, 1977)

9/23/22: Tonight I read ten essential poems from the American poet Robinson Jeffers (1187-1962). Selections of Jeffers’s poetry are legion: many of them can be found here. The five-volume Collected Poems of Robinson Jeffers, edited by Tim Hunt and published by Stanford University Press, can be found here. You can read more about his life at the Poetry Foundation and Wikipedia. A larger selection of his poetry, which I recorded in 2020-2021, can be found here.

The poems I read are:

  • The Excesses of God
  • Point Joe
  • Hooded Night
  • New Mexican Mountain
  • Nova
  • from Hungerfield
  • De Rerum Virtute
  • Vulture
  • “I am seventy-four years old and suddenly all my strength”
  • Inscription for a Gravestone

The episode ends with a 1941 Library of Congress recording of Jeffers reading his poem, “Natural Music.”

10/3/22: Tonight I read twelve essential poems from the British poet Ted Hughes (1930-1998). They can all be found in his Collected Poems (smaller selections of his poetry include Selected Poems 1957-1994 and A Ted Hughes Bestiary). In this episode I also read from The Letters of Ted Hughes.

The poems are:

  • Wind (from the Hawk in the Rain, 1957)
  • Six Young Men (from the Hawk in the Rain, 1957)
  • Crow’s Song About God (from Crow, 1970-71)
  • “I skin the skin” (from Gaudete, 1977)
  • A Green Mother (from Cave Birds, 1978)
  • Bride and Groom Lie Hidden for Three Days (from Cave Birds, 1978)
  • Cock-Crows (from Remains of Elmet, 1979)
  • Rain (from Moortown Diary, 1979)
  • February 17th (from Moortown Diary, 1979)
  • Four March Watercolours (from River, 1983)
  • October Salmon (from River, 1983)
  • Life After Death (from Birthday Letters, 1998)
  • This is followed by a reading Hughes gave of his poem, “October Salmon.”

Other episodes on Hughes include one where he discusses privacy for his family in the wake of Sylvia Plath’s posthumous fame; another where he discusses how he discovered poetry; and another, much longer episode of readings (4.5 hours) from Hughes’s poetry.