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Another annoying thing is that the editors have given glosses to explain the simplest concepts and terms. These glosses interrupt one's reading of a poem, and for people who do not know the words explained, a dictionary would be much more useful.
First of all, nearly half of the book consists of relatively mediocre 20th century poetry. The book could be cut in two at the middle, and the first half sold as a meagre anthology of poetry up to the 20th century, and the second as a comprehensive collection of 20 century poems. The 20th century is one of the worst in terms of the poetry it gave to the world. Many of the poets in the second half are practically unknown now, and will have been entirely forgotten fifty years from now. Although the book dutifully includes many of the great poems of English literature and is therefore not entirely useless, the selection is otherwise a very curious one for a book intended as a general survey of English poetry. A large percentage of the poems in this book could be cut out and it would be as good as it is now, only a great deal lighter and hopefully cheaper.
Another irritating thing is the footnotes. The editors seem to have assumed that they need to define and explain the simplest terms and concepts. For example, on page 215, they give a gloss for the word "clod," defining it as "Lumps of earth or clay." That's all very well, but "clod," a common English word, does not require explanation. It's distracting to the reader that knows it to have his attention called to the footnote. One's reading of the poem is thereby interrupted. Anyone who does not know the meaning of "clod" could perfectly well turn to a dictionary.
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We are there, raising our champagne glasses along with Salter, as hundreds of balloons rise over Chartres. We stay at her side--happily--as she touches down on her lifetime and those of historical and fictional figures: Alexander Graham Bell, Helen Keller, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.
We head into space for the kiss. We even come upon a gang of kangaroos "like flustered actors who don't know what to do with their hands... who look properly stunned when our typecast tour bus, bumptious as a cousin none of them invited, raises a ruckus of flung stones and dust and scrapes to a halt before them, face to face."
These encounters with nature, history, fiction, family, animals and the elusive self--is each a kiss in space-- and never a mere peck on the cheek.
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