I picked up Ana Sampson’s collection I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud at Pioneer Book a month or two ago, just to make sure I had a steady stream of good poetry. The collection is what it claims to be: a collection of poems you’ve probably heard before, most likely because you studied them in school.
Of course, it was printed in the UK, so there were actually quite a few that I hadn’t studied in school, and a few historical references I didn’t understand. My fault – I should study more British history. And apparently, I’ve now skimmed a few more British poets than before. And every now and then, I kept thinking, “This is a little Anglo-centric,” and then I remembered. Oh, yeah. Poems British kids study in school. Duh.
One particular quirk I enjoyed was that the poets are arranged in chronological order. This means that, while the poems change quickly in topic, there’s still some consistency in style as the forms of poetry change. The beginning is littered with old English poets. There’s a whole section of WWI poetry, because those were the poets who lived during WWI. The last few poems suddenly get very coarse and choppy (and, if you’re considering letting your children read this, you should know there are some F-bombs in there.)
Overall, I feel like it’s a good collection to have, even if I keep it out of reach of my little ones for a while. ♦