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Stretch Far Away

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ShelleyAlmost exactly 50 years ago, I memorized my first serious poem. More than likely, I’d earlier learned the words of many a childhood poem. But the first serious poem I recited from memory was a classic sonnet (yes, Turco, it is one) by one of our classic poets: Ozymandias, by Percy Bysshe Shelley. By now I can’t even recall where I was able to dig that poem up back then — perhaps one of my father’s books, although he was partial to Robert Browning; possibly a book from our school, although I recall only our high schools having libraries. Wherever I managed to find it, memorizing Ozymandias represented a threshold for me: crossing that threshold was when I became a lover of poetry. And now, less than 3 years shy of the 200th anniversary of the initial publication of Ozymandias, my poetry bookshelves finally gain a volume of Shelley poetry.

My poetry bookshelves have more glaring absences than I care to point out, although a wish list is in the offing. Oh, most certainly, I do have more than enough to keep me reading good poetry the rest of my life, even without recourse to the Internet. In fact, my stacks have already collected more than one copy of Ozymandias, for instance on page 495 of The Top 500 Poems. Then with nearly 150 other poetry volumes spread across shelves in 3 rooms here, I have a pretty wide selection to keep me occupied at any given one of the thousands of moments each day that I get the urge to read poetry, from The New Yorker Book of Poems‘ wide selection of some of the best of modern poetry to Till I End My Song‘s collection of curtain calls, from the half dozen I’ve collected of the shunned Rod McKuen to my few precious volumes of Mona Van Duyn poetry, from volumes of collected poems for well-known names Allen Ginsberg and E.E. Cummings to the four volumes I have of a poet quite well-known to me personally although obscure to most others, William Hollis. Plus most of the volumes in the Best American Poetry series, along with a few years’ worth of Poetry issues. All in all, even with the gaping holes, a fair collection.

Yet it took a trip by SuziQ to a local Goodwill store hoping to find something for one of her craft projects to add a volume of Shelley poetry to my bookshelves. Which does also say something about SuziQ — her primary mission for being at that Goodwill store is to find some glassware she has her mind’s eye set on, yet she takes a moment to stop by the used book corner of the store to see if there’s anything there that I might like. And yes, there is! Thank you, SuziQ!

Now, let’s see just how far these lone and level sands do actually stretch, then get to work memorizing my second Shelley poem . . .

Update: I’ve chosen Ode to the West Wind as the second Shelley poem I will work on memorizing.

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Written by macheide

15 April 2015 at 6:30 pm

Posted in grolier

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