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101 Sonnets By 101 Poets (Faber Penguin Audiobooks)

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The sonnet is, along with the limerick, the most widely known poetic form and whereas the limerick is used almost exclusively for humourous--if not downright ribald--ends (though Tennyson supposedly wrote a melancholy example), the sonnet is an altogether nobler structure, with Shakespeare's sonnet sequence being the most virtuoso expression of its poetic possibilities. As The sonnet is, along with the limerick, the most widely known poetic form and whereas the limerick is used almost exclusively for humourous--if not downright ribald--ends (though Tennyson supposedly wrote a melancholy example), the sonnet is an altogether nobler structure, with Shakespeare's sonnet sequence being the most virtuoso expression of its poetic possibilities. As Don Paterson, himself an accomplished poet and sonneteer, observes in his introduction, the sonnet's rules of construction are both strict and easily broken, but its 14 lines and patterning of rhythm and rhyme outline a form of great versatility, capable of encompassing complex perception, wit and amourous rumination: Dante Gabriel Rossetti's claim that "A Sonnet is a moment's monument,-- / Memorial from the Soul's eternity" is evidence of the loftier aspirations of the form, while Sean O'Brien's line "What better excuse to go out and get pissed?" exemplifies the sonnet's more profane pleasures. This collection demonstrates the sonnet's enduring appeal to poets from the 16th century to the present-day--from Wyatt, Shakespeare and Milton, to Armitage, Heaney and Carol Ann Duffy. Paterson cleverly opts for a non-chronological approach--his innovative juxtaposition makes fresh even familiar examples, and his brief notes on each poem's technique and treatment of subject are illuminating, laconic and often irreverent. If the tone of these annotations veers occasionally towards the bluff and overly matey, it is perhaps an indication of Paterson's confidence in the form hitched to the sensibility of a seasoned craftsman--the introduction likewise shifts from the pragmatic and informative to the speculatively baroque--but the end result is a collection of many pleasures and surprises and a bold reassertion of the continuing tradition of formal poetry. --Burhan Tufail


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The sonnet is, along with the limerick, the most widely known poetic form and whereas the limerick is used almost exclusively for humourous--if not downright ribald--ends (though Tennyson supposedly wrote a melancholy example), the sonnet is an altogether nobler structure, with Shakespeare's sonnet sequence being the most virtuoso expression of its poetic possibilities. As The sonnet is, along with the limerick, the most widely known poetic form and whereas the limerick is used almost exclusively for humourous--if not downright ribald--ends (though Tennyson supposedly wrote a melancholy example), the sonnet is an altogether nobler structure, with Shakespeare's sonnet sequence being the most virtuoso expression of its poetic possibilities. As Don Paterson, himself an accomplished poet and sonneteer, observes in his introduction, the sonnet's rules of construction are both strict and easily broken, but its 14 lines and patterning of rhythm and rhyme outline a form of great versatility, capable of encompassing complex perception, wit and amourous rumination: Dante Gabriel Rossetti's claim that "A Sonnet is a moment's monument,-- / Memorial from the Soul's eternity" is evidence of the loftier aspirations of the form, while Sean O'Brien's line "What better excuse to go out and get pissed?" exemplifies the sonnet's more profane pleasures. This collection demonstrates the sonnet's enduring appeal to poets from the 16th century to the present-day--from Wyatt, Shakespeare and Milton, to Armitage, Heaney and Carol Ann Duffy. Paterson cleverly opts for a non-chronological approach--his innovative juxtaposition makes fresh even familiar examples, and his brief notes on each poem's technique and treatment of subject are illuminating, laconic and often irreverent. If the tone of these annotations veers occasionally towards the bluff and overly matey, it is perhaps an indication of Paterson's confidence in the form hitched to the sensibility of a seasoned craftsman--the introduction likewise shifts from the pragmatic and informative to the speculatively baroque--but the end result is a collection of many pleasures and surprises and a bold reassertion of the continuing tradition of formal poetry. --Burhan Tufail

30 review for 101 Sonnets By 101 Poets (Faber Penguin Audiobooks)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I came somewhat hesitantly to 101 Sonnets edited by Don Paterson, on the back of enjoying Short and Sweet edited by Simon Armitage in the same series. Firstly I shared (indeed probably more totally embraced) Armitage's comments on the 14 line sonnet form in his introduction to the latter book. Secondly, when I was on my little 'read all the TS Eliot prizewinners available through the library' project, Don Paterson's own work was distinctly inaccessible. His introduction to this volume however was I came somewhat hesitantly to 101 Sonnets edited by Don Paterson, on the back of enjoying Short and Sweet edited by Simon Armitage in the same series. Firstly I shared (indeed probably more totally embraced) Armitage's comments on the 14 line sonnet form in his introduction to the latter book. Secondly, when I was on my little 'read all the TS Eliot prizewinners available through the library' project, Don Paterson's own work was distinctly inaccessible. His introduction to this volume however was very accessibly written and I felt I learned a lot (or will do if I re-read it a few times so it sticks) whereas before I had only the idea of 14 lines and a single rhyme scheme. I also very much enjoyed his notes at the end on each poem, which again I feel will repay a second reading. They were both light hearted and helped me to a deeper understanding of the form in all its varieties. I would not have enjoyed the poems as much without his input. The selection was very interesting. I was not surprised, given my reading of 'Landing Light' to see that he had chosen a number in Scots and Old English. I was startled by some stunningly vulgar offerings but they are ancient works which have clearly stood the test of time and one is very funny, the other mouth-puckeringly (and I'm sorry that's an unfortune choice of words given the topic) sour (by Catullus) They belong here. Some familiar works (Simon Armitage...) but mostly new to me, and some overlap with Sounds Good, the collection in the series for reading aloud - enough to be appropriate and no more.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    One of the great anthologies. Wondrous introduction by a master of the form, jam-packed with sonnets of all flavours - comic, elegiac, irreverent and even sinister. Personal favourites: The Skylight, Seamus Heaney Rag and Bone, Norman MacCaig The Princess and the Pea, Paul Muldoon The Bright Field, R.S. Thomas ‘A sonnet is a moment’s monument’, Dante Gabriel Rossetti The Death of Peter Esson, George Mackay Brown Prayer, Carol Ann Duffy Arsehole, Craig Raine Modern Love, Douglas Dunn Still-Life, Elizabe One of the great anthologies. Wondrous introduction by a master of the form, jam-packed with sonnets of all flavours - comic, elegiac, irreverent and even sinister. Personal favourites: The Skylight, Seamus Heaney Rag and Bone, Norman MacCaig The Princess and the Pea, Paul Muldoon The Bright Field, R.S. Thomas ‘A sonnet is a moment’s monument’, Dante Gabriel Rossetti The Death of Peter Esson, George Mackay Brown Prayer, Carol Ann Duffy Arsehole, Craig Raine Modern Love, Douglas Dunn Still-Life, Elizabeth Daryush

  3. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    "If people can tell you one thing about a sonnet, they'll tell you it's a fourteen-line poem. But poets will tell you that a fourteen-line poem isn't necessarily a sonnet... The truth, these days at least, is that the sonnet is pretty much in the eye of the beholder." This collection of poetry features some pretty major poets, but most of the sonnets (for me personally) were just ok. There were very few I really enjoyed. And when I say very few I mean three. Régime de Vivre by John Wilmot, Writte "If people can tell you one thing about a sonnet, they'll tell you it's a fourteen-line poem. But poets will tell you that a fourteen-line poem isn't necessarily a sonnet... The truth, these days at least, is that the sonnet is pretty much in the eye of the beholder." This collection of poetry features some pretty major poets, but most of the sonnets (for me personally) were just ok. There were very few I really enjoyed. And when I say very few I mean three. Régime de Vivre by John Wilmot, Written in the Church Yard at Midnight in Sussex by Charlotte Smith, and In Her Praise by Robert Graves which this verse is from: To parley with the pure, oracular dead, to hear the wild pack whimpering overhead, to watch the moon tugging at her cold tides. Woman is mortal woman. She abides.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Stephen McQuiggan

    Some surprising and unexpected selections here - Craig Raine and John Wilmot would not be out of place in a copy of HST - and very welcome they are too.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Marina Sofia

    I had no idea there were so many modern sonnets and so much variety within the sonnet form. Introduced with tongue firmly in cheek and with a brief, often amusing comment about each sonnet by poet Don Paterson, this is a very handy introduction to one of poetry's best-loved and most versatile forms. A joy to own and dip into! I had no idea there were so many modern sonnets and so much variety within the sonnet form. Introduced with tongue firmly in cheek and with a brief, often amusing comment about each sonnet by poet Don Paterson, this is a very handy introduction to one of poetry's best-loved and most versatile forms. A joy to own and dip into!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Graham Tennyson

    I will carry this little treasure around with me. Not only does it contain some of the most profound statements of what it is to be human, but one also gets a great Introduction by Don Paterson. Want a philosophy book, an entertainment, a quick history of the sonnet? Want a resource for the darkest night or a pick-me up with humour to share? This is it ...

  7. 4 out of 5

    123bex

    I read this anthology in a huge mood that only one Shakespeare had been included, only to get to the afterword and find a passage saying only one was allowed, but Shakespeare is obviously the greatest sonneteer of all time. You can stay then, Don Paterson, I GUESS. Really nice collection, interesting foreword and useful notes.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Robin Helweg-Larsen

    This has to rank as one of the all-time great poetry anthologies. Yes, it contains only sonnets. Yes, several of them are dense in structure or in language (several are in Scots, with words and phrases translated in footnotes). Yes, there is only one sonnet per poet. It is very rich material, and took me a couple of weeks for a first read because there is a lot of absorb. And it has a fabulous Introduction by the British editor Don Paterson - a well-respected poet who avoided including any sonne This has to rank as one of the all-time great poetry anthologies. Yes, it contains only sonnets. Yes, several of them are dense in structure or in language (several are in Scots, with words and phrases translated in footnotes). Yes, there is only one sonnet per poet. It is very rich material, and took me a couple of weeks for a first read because there is a lot of absorb. And it has a fabulous Introduction by the British editor Don Paterson - a well-respected poet who avoided including any sonnet of his own. The sonnets are not put into any formal grouping, but rather flow conversationally from one to the next, the themes often shifting through unexpected juxtaposition. So the first nine run through an amazing sequence of idealised love, woman as muse, kissing, sensual religiosity, obscenity, and charm. It starts with Robert Frost She is as in a field a silken tent and progresses to Robert Graves' woman/muse This they know well: the Goddess yet abides. Though each new lovely woman whom She rides to Jo Shapcott's 'Muse' When I kiss you in all the folding places to Alexander Montgomerie's So swete a kis yistrene fra thee I reft to Wilfred Owen's Between the brown hands of a server-lad The silver cross was offered to be kissed John Donne's Batter my heart, three-personed God William Alabaster's 'Upon the Crucifix' Feed greedy eyes and from hence never rove, Suck hungry soul of this eternal store, Issue my heart from thy two-leaved door, And let my lips from kissing not remove. Craig Raine's 'Arsehole' I dreamed your body was an instrument and this was the worn mouthpiece to which my breathing lips were bent. to Robert Herrick A sweet disorder in the dress Kindles in clothes a wantonness The 101 Sonnets provide a wild ride. The next in the book are Poe's 'An Enigma', Wordsworth's The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers (incidentally the first sonnet I learnt by heart, one that helped shape my life) and J.K. Stephens' parody critique of Wordsworth Two voices are there: one is of the deep (...) And one is of the old half-witted sheep (...) And, Wordsworth, both are thine And so on through all aspects of life and death, English landscapes, Irish history, real parents, imaginary children, mythology, poetry, the seasons, the close observation of small everyday items... Wendy Cope paired with Edmund Spenser, Gwendolyn Brooks with John Milton... A very rich and rewarding collection. And the 17-page Introduction is the single best essay on poetry that I've ever read. Naturally it is focused on the sonnet, covering its definition, its history, its structure; but in so doing it talks about wider issues such as the nature of iambic pentameter, and in a couple of places it goes into the nature of poetry itself: it mentions one of the advantages of the sonnet being that it is small enough to be easily memorised, which is the whole point of the poem--that it should lodge itself permanently in our brains. We should never forget that of all the art forms, only the poem can be carried around in the brain perfectly intact. The poem is no more or less than a little machine for remembering itself: every device or trope, whether rhyme or metre, metaphor or anaphora, or any one of the thousand others, can be said to have a mnemonic function in addtion to its structural or musical one. Poetry is therefore primarily a commemorative act--one of committing worthwhile events and thoughts and stories to memory. Later Paterson states Poetic arguments appear to cohere simply because they rhyme. Rhyme always unifies sense, and can make sense out of nonsense; it can trick a logic from the shadows where one would not have otherwise existed. This is one of the great poetic mysteries. All in all a brilliant book, and highly rereadable.

  9. 4 out of 5

    William

    In 1998 I decided that my memory wasn't what it used to be and that I should address it by finding poems to memorize. I read one of these poems every day and tried to memorize it. They were all awesome. Honestly the only one I still remember was the first, The Silken Tent by Robert Frost, but that's still worth the price of admission. Nicely selected and with enjoyable sardonic notes. In 1998 I decided that my memory wasn't what it used to be and that I should address it by finding poems to memorize. I read one of these poems every day and tried to memorize it. They were all awesome. Honestly the only one I still remember was the first, The Silken Tent by Robert Frost, but that's still worth the price of admission. Nicely selected and with enjoyable sardonic notes.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    I really enjoyed this book because the introduction and the notes on the poems were so accessible and unpretentious.

  11. 4 out of 5

    felix

    I really can't escape Philip Larkin, huh I really can't escape Philip Larkin, huh

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    I think Paterson's intention in assembling this anthology was two fold: first, he wanted to provide a collection of good sonnets that would be fun to read and accessible to a wide variety of readers; and second, he wanted to show the many variations of one of the most fundamental poetic forms. His introduction provides a concise but informative history of the sonnet and addresses some of the academic discussion/debate over what constitutes a "sonnet." Paterson arrived at a rather liberal definit I think Paterson's intention in assembling this anthology was two fold: first, he wanted to provide a collection of good sonnets that would be fun to read and accessible to a wide variety of readers; and second, he wanted to show the many variations of one of the most fundamental poetic forms. His introduction provides a concise but informative history of the sonnet and addresses some of the academic discussion/debate over what constitutes a "sonnet." Paterson arrived at a rather liberal definition, deciding that any poem with fourteen lines could be considered for his sonnet anthology. He writes,"Two or three of the poems here are probably not sonnets in anyone's book, but they are in this one: apart from being fine poems, they'll serve to show just how fuzzy the definition is." So, if the definition was fuzzy to begin with, Paterson seeks to blur it even further with his anthology. The poems in this book include many of the great poems and authors you read in school, but there are a few obscure poems as well. Paterson includes some brief notes on each poem at the back of the book which primarily discuss the technical aspects of the poems, leaving the interpretation up to each individual reader. Overall, it was a good collection.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    I have always enjoyed reading poetry, but this is simply a beautiful collection! There are an odd one or two that detract it from the overall presentation of poetry, but I cannot say that it is worth anything less than the full marks. I disliked the two somewhat controversial poems, both highly sexually based. I understand that these sonnets were probably written to cause such reactions, I just felt they were fairly misplaced. The rest were really beautifully written. Especially Christina Rossetti I have always enjoyed reading poetry, but this is simply a beautiful collection! There are an odd one or two that detract it from the overall presentation of poetry, but I cannot say that it is worth anything less than the full marks. I disliked the two somewhat controversial poems, both highly sexually based. I understand that these sonnets were probably written to cause such reactions, I just felt they were fairly misplaced. The rest were really beautifully written. Especially Christina Rossetti's poem, however morbid, was a pleasure to read. Also the poem named 'Muse' was so sweet I ended up writing it out for myself! I'm so glad I got to read this collection.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Steve Bowbrick

    Perfect. A small universe of 'square poems' - famous ones and ones that will be new to you. But the best bit is Paterson's beautiful introduction and notes about each poem, a history and an elegant, passionate argument for the form that somehow makes all the poems in the book better. "Poets write sonnets because it makes poems easier to write. Readers read them because it makes their lives easier to bear." Perfect. A small universe of 'square poems' - famous ones and ones that will be new to you. But the best bit is Paterson's beautiful introduction and notes about each poem, a history and an elegant, passionate argument for the form that somehow makes all the poems in the book better. "Poets write sonnets because it makes poems easier to write. Readers read them because it makes their lives easier to bear."

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sophia Roberts

    A perfect little primer with a stunning introduction, together with an enlightening pithy commentary on every one of the featured sonnets. For the most part, the selection is excellent. So, worth 4.5 stars, really...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    A hugely varied collection of sonnets, covering so many poets, eras, styles etc. A wonderful collection.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Megan Ellis

    2.5 ⭐

  18. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Interesting but taxing to read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    This is a wonderful varied collection of sonnets - wish I'd bought it instead of borrowing from the library! This is a wonderful varied collection of sonnets - wish I'd bought it instead of borrowing from the library!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Simmons

    Stands above the others in the series.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    I like poetry, and I like sonnets, but upon having to study this for university, I have a strong dislike for having to unpick and analyse them! But the sonnets in this collection are great!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Amy

  23. 4 out of 5

    Karen

  24. 5 out of 5

    Samuel

  25. 5 out of 5

    Colleen

  26. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

  27. 5 out of 5

    Robert Keegan-Walker

  28. 5 out of 5

    penny wainwright

  29. 4 out of 5

    Martin Farrar

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ianthe

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