A Treasury of the World’s Best Loved Poems



Book: A Treasury of the World’s Best Loved Poems

Author: George Gesner, editor

Publisher: Avenel Books, 1961

ASIN: B000F7K2G0


Language level: 1

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level:  Ages 13 and up

Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

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Gesner, George, editor. A Treasury of the World’s Best Loved Poems (published in 1961 by Avanel Books, a division of Crown Publishers Inc., 419 Park Ave. S., New York City, NY  10016).  My brother Renn G. Walker (1956-1976) loved to read poetry and had a copy of this book, which found its way into my library.  Apparently, it was volume one of a set of four books, the other three of which were [2] The Sonnets of William Shakespeare; [3] The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám; and [4] Sonnets from the Portuguese.  This wonderful collection contains poems by Christopher Marlowe, Philip Sidney, John Donne, George Wither, John Suckling, Richard Lovelace, William Shakespeare, John Milton, Alexander Pope, William Blake, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, William Wordsworth, George Gordon Byron, Edward Fitzgerald, Robert Burns, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Keats, Walter Scott, Alfred Tennyson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, and others.

It also includes one of my favorite poems, “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes, and even a couple of selections from the Bible, namely Psalm 23 and the Address of Ruth to Naomi.  Yet some people evidently don’t like it.  One person wrote, “It’s a tepid collection at best. For a ‘World’ collection, it only has poets of certain schools, and almost entirely white Western poets. Perhaps a renaming to ‘Best Western Classics’ would be more appropriate. Most of these poems are already featured in my other more comprehensive collections.”  Another said, “This is a smattering of poems, primarily of men with only Elizabeth Barrett Browning to represent women,” and even made up a poem to describe it ending with the line, “Forgetting about Dickinson, Parker, Angelou and the rest.”

Well, excuse us for being white Western males.  Obviously, this is not intended to be a complete anthology of all the world’s poetry, but only a representative collection of what have been traditionally considered some of the world’s best loved poems, especially in the English language.  Yes, I’m sure that for the poetry connoisseur, these poems will all be found their other books of poetry, but if one could have only one small book of poetry, this might be a good one to pick.  And actually, Emily Dickinson is included in the list of authors.  One other person noted, “I guess it was boring to the person who left it to be donated in the first place. I could not really get into it, even when I tried over a few years. It will go to the library for their book sale.”  If one doesn’t like poetry, that’s fine.  It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.  But if someone hates poems, don’t pick up a book of poetry and then declare to all the world how boring it is.

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