I love poetry and often try to work at least one poem into each book I write. This book gave me a chance to use more poems than usual.
Click on the following first lines to see the text of each poem:
William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet who was interested in the folktales
and legends of his country. He was also active in politics and held some important
political offices, including senator of the Irish Free State from 1922 to
1928. In 1923, he was awarded a Nobel Prize for literature.
I saw this poem for the first time when a good friend sent me a copy after my daughter was born.
Will take from both a deep autumnal tone,
Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce
My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!
Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
Like wither'd leaves, to quicken a new birth;
And, by the incantation of this verse,
Scatter, as from an unextinguish'd hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
Be through my lips to unawaken'd earth
The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?
--Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822)
This is the last part of a much longer poem. The whole text seemed too
long and complicated to put on this page. Shelly wrote "Ode to the West Wind"
after seeing a fierce autumn storm in a forest near Florence, Italy. It was
written in 1819.
I wanted to use this part of the poem in my book because the poet suggests that the entire forest is an aeolian harp in the winds of the storm. It seemed to fit with the scene when Blake meets Lem Howell and he shows her the aeolian instruments he has made.
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?--William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.
William Shakespeare is the greatest writer in the English
left us many plays, and a number of beautiful poems. We know almost
about what inspired him to write his poems. Some people think this is
not a love poem, but a poem Shakespeare wrote after his son, Hamnet,
died at the age of eleven.
I picked this poem for Secret Under My Skin because the phrase "sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines" seemed to suggest global warming, and because the whole idea of ultra-violet radiation plays an important role in the story. I also think it's very beautiful.
This poem and the one by Milton below are both sonnets.
If you look at the patterns, you can see the similarities in form.
After Shakespeare, John Milton is probably the greatest English-language writer. His epic poems "Paradise Lost" and "Paradise Regained" inspired Philip Pullman to write his trilogy that begins with The Golden Compass. In Milton's lifetime, the king of England, Charles I, was executed and replaced by a republican government led by Oliver Cromwell. Milton was a republican supporter, and very outspoken about his ideas. This sometimes got him into trouble. By 1652, he was completely blind. This is one of his most famous poems.
To learn more about Milton, visit Anniina Jokinen's John Milton web site .
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