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The Rattle Bag is an anthology of poetry (mostly in English but occasionally in translation) for general readers and students of all ages and backgrounds. These poems have been selected by the simple yet telling criteria that they are the personal favorites of the editors, themselves two of contemporary literature's leading poets.
Moreover, Heaney and Hughes have elected to list their favorites not by theme or by author but simply by title (or by first line, when no title is given). As they explain in their Introduction: "We hope that our decision to impose an arbitrary alphabetical order allows the contents [of this book] to discover themselves as we ourselves gradually discovered them--each poem full of its singular appeal, transmitting its own signals, taking its chances in a big, voluble world."
With undisputed masterpieces and rare discoveries, with both classics and surprises galore, The Rattle Bag includes the work of such key poets as William Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Lewis Carroll, Dylan Thomas, Wallace Stevens, Elizabeth Bishop, and Sylvia Plath among its hundreds of poems. A helpful Glossary as well as an Index of Poets and Works are offered at the conclusion of this hefty, unorthodox, diverse, inspired, and inspiring collection of poetry.
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Seamus Heaney received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995. A resident of Dublin since 1976, he teaches regularly at Harvard University. Heaney has written over a dozen books of poetry and criticism, and the Los Angeles Times Book Review has called him "the greatest Irish poet since Yeats."
Ted Hughes, the author of numerous books of poetry, prose, and translation, was Poet Laureate to Queen Elizabeth II until his death in 1998. His last book of poems, Birthday Letters, won the Whitbread Book of the Year award—and was a much-discussed national bestseller. He lived in Devon, England.
"The method employed in arranging and presenting [the contents of this book] must surely be the one for all the best anthologies . . . The Rattle Bag sets a standard which other anthologies will find it difficult to equal." --Alan Brownjohn, Times Literary Supplement (London)
"A splendid, huge, resonant book." --Observer (London)
"A must for anyone at all who likes poetry." --Melvyn Bragg, The Times (London)
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