Many Long Years Ago by Ogden Nash (1945)
Reflections on Our Friendship by American Greetings Corporation (1975)
Old Possum’s Practical Book of Cats by T.S. Eliot (1939, 1982)
If laddie reckons himself to be a poet, laddie really ought to read diverse styles of poetry and, yes, sometimes even poetry that is not very good. Not that I reckon myself to be a poet these days.
The volume of Nash’s represents the longest of the five I bought in 2007 (I hope–it’s 330+ pages, which is a lot of one poet in a row). Nash’s poems are light and easy to read, but sometimes their rhthyms are way off and the words are stretched and misspelled on purpose to make a rhyme, which can be distracting more than truly humorous. But sometimes, he puts a thought or observation into such stark and clear language you cannot help quoting it.
On the other hand, the American Greetings Corporation book is a collection of meh things full of proper rhymes, fair cadence, and imagery like the ocean that washes away from the beach and whose individual waves you cannot remember after the vacation is over. On the other hand, these poets are in more volumes than I am.
The T.S. Eliot book is light and humorous verse about cats, of course. The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical is based on it, but I’m not going to run right out and see a musical based on reading this book. Eliot is really good technically, with good cadence and rhyme and use of repetition, but it’s only an amusing book about, well, cats, so it didn’t yield any insight into the human condition for me. Unlike, say, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”.
If you’re a novice looking to broaden your horizons, I rank them Eliot, Nash, and American Greetings Corporation, but you could probably skip the last. Although its lack of availability online indicates it’s rare, so in my own interest I should say “You should read Reflections on Friendship, or you’ll die ignorant and uncultured (available at MfBJN for $299.98.” But I’m not doing this for myself, gentle reader; no, I write these book reports for you. TO KNOW HOW MUCH AND WIDELY I READ!