BOOK REVIEW: The Best of Poetry: Thoughts that Breathe and Words That Burn ed. by Rudolph Amsel & Teresa Keyne

The Best of Poetry: Thoughts that Breathe and Words that Burn (In Two Hundred Poems)The Best of Poetry: Thoughts that Breathe and Words that Burn by Rudolph Amsel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Amazon page

This is a collection that gathers 14 poems for each of 14 different themes. If you’re a math whiz, you know that means it’s a collection of 196 poems, but they round it out with four bonus poems to make a clean 200. If you’re a poetry reader, many of these poems will be familiar. They’re classic works from master poets from the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries (a few earlier.) Still, they are worth revisiting, the collection is inexpensive, and the organization, itself, is thought-provoking.

The fourteen themes that create the organizational schema for the book are: 1.) rapture: words that burn, 2.) a door opens; a door closes, 3.) love, 4.) humor & curiosities, 5.) memory, 6.) nature, 7.) tales & songs, 8.) solitude, 9.) contemplation, 10.) mystery & enigma, 11.) parting & sorrow, 12.) animals, 13.) inspiration, and 14.) cities. Then there are a couple bonus poems each attached to both the introduction and the epilogue.

As mentioned, the poets are mostly household names of English-language poetry, including: Emily Dickenson, Walt Whitman, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, William Blake, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Keats, W.B. Yeats, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Thomas Hardy, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Carl Sandburg, T.S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, Shakespeare, Lord Byron, Ben Johnson, Lewis Carroll, Oliver Wendell Holmes, William Wordsworth, A. E. Housman, Edgar Allen Poe, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Robert Frost. There are some names that are less than household names, but none that are obscure to poetry aficionados.

Again, many of the poems are well-known. Some of them are fragments of long poems, but most are stand-alone works. Examples of some of the standards include: “Chicago” by Sandburg, “If” by Kipling, “The Road Not Taken” by Frost, “Let My Country Awake” by Tagore, “The Tiger” by Blake, “The Raven” by Poe, “Kubla Khan” by Coleridge, “The Daffodils” by Wordsworth, “The Jabberwocky” by Carroll, “She Walks in Beauty” by Byron, and “There Is No Frigate Like a Book” by Dickinson.


I should point out that this is the first volume in a multi-volume set. There is also a second volume out, but I don’t know what the plans are beyond that.
I enjoyed this collection. I’d read most of these poems before, but the vast majority deserve re-reading and re-reading again. I’d recommend it for poetry lovers.

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1 thought on “BOOK REVIEW: The Best of Poetry: Thoughts that Breathe and Words That Burn ed. by Rudolph Amsel & Teresa Keyne

  1. Perhaps I’ll get back to reading poetry someday. I have no appetite for novels, and absolutely no desire to write.

    Carry on for the rest of us.


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