Poems That Make Grown Men Cry: 100 Men on the Words That Move Them

8 Dec

Poems That Make Grown Men Cry: 100 Men on the Words That Move Them

Poems That Make Grown Men Cry: 100 Men on the Words That Move Them

Ben Holden

Language: English

Pages: 336

ISBN: 1476712786

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A life-enhancing tour through classic and contemporary poems that have made men cry: “The Holdens remind us that you don’t have to be an academic or a postgraduate in creative writing to be moved by verse….It’s plain fun” (The Wall Street Journal).

Grown men aren’t supposed to cry…Yet in this fascinating anthology, one hundred men—distinguished in literature and film, science and architecture, theater and human rights—confess to being moved to tears by poems that continue to haunt them. Although the majority are public figures not prone to crying, here they admit to breaking down, often in words as powerful as the poems themselves.

Their selections include classics by visionaries, such as Walt Whitman, W.H. Auden, and Philip Larkin, as well as modern works by masters, including Billy Collins, Seamus Heaney, Derek Walcott, and poets who span the globe from Pablo Neruda to Rabindranath Tagore. The poems chosen range from the sixteenth century to the twenty-first, with more than a dozen by women, including Mary Oliver, Elizabeth Bishop, and Gwendolyn Brooks. Their themes range from love in its many guises, through mortality and loss, to the beauty and variety of nature. All are moved to tears by the exquisite way a poet captures, in Alexander Pope’s famous phrase, “what oft was thought, but ne’er so well express’d.”

From J.J. Abrams to John le Carré, Salman Rushdie to Jonathan Franzen, Daniel Radcliffe to Nick Cave to Stephen Fry, Stanley Tucci to Colin Firth to the late Christopher Hitchens, this collection delivers private insight into the souls of men whose writing, acting, and thinking are admired around the world. “Everyone who reads this collection will be roused: disturbed by the pain, exalted in the zest for joy given by poets” (Nadine Gordimer, winner of the Nobel Prize for literature).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

shining exit-gates, someone or other stood, whose features were unrecognizable. He stood and saw how, on the strip of road among the meadows, with a mournful look, the god of messages silently turned to follow the small figure already walking back along the path, her steps constricted by the trailing graveclothes, uncertain, gentle, and without impatience. (1904) TRANSLATION BY STEPHEN MITCHELL The Irish novelist Colm Tóibín (b. 1955) has also published short stories, plays, journalism

This poem – translated from Bengali into English by Tagore himself – is, however, special to me in a different way, a powerful call to action and a declaration of belief in achievable change. Its final line is a powerful culmination of the pent-up aspirations of the poem: ‘Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.’ The poem was published in 1910, in an India then still part of the British Raj, but the line seems to me more universal than that. It could just as well read:

else is the image of a place: a place where your bones and mine are buried, thrown, uncovered, together. They are strewn there pell-mell. One of your ribs leans against my skull. A metacarpal of my left hand lies inside your pelvis. (Against my broken ribs your breast like a flower.) The hundred bones of our feet are scattered like gravel. It is strange that this image of our proximity, concerning as it does mere phosphate of calcium, should bestow a sense of peace. Yet it does. With you I can

its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit.’ The mind is led forward to the ‘heaven of freedom’. However, he conceives that heaven to be reached by the path of religious faith called upon. ‘Into that freedom, my Father, let my country awake.’ Auden, ‘In Memory of W. B. Yeats’ ‘The day of his death was a dark cold day / . . . But for him it was his last afternoon as himself. . . . the words of a dead man. / When the brokers are roaring like beasts on the floor of the bourse . . . / And

its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit.’ The mind is led forward to the ‘heaven of freedom’. However, he conceives that heaven to be reached by the path of religious faith called upon. ‘Into that freedom, my Father, let my country awake.’ Auden, ‘In Memory of W. B. Yeats’ ‘The day of his death was a dark cold day / . . . But for him it was his last afternoon as himself. . . . the words of a dead man. / When the brokers are roaring like beasts on the floor of the bourse . . . / And

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