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The Classic Fifty Poems

Narrated by: Philip Levine, Paul Muldoon
Length: 3 hrs and 2 mins
Categories: Classics, Poetry

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Publisher's Summary

Adopting the methodology of the music charts, The Classic Fifty Poems presents the "top 50" poems of all time. Determined by a consensus of over 1,000 compliers, and arranged in order of popularity, each author's work is illuminated by the informative notes of editor William Harmon, who offers insights into the historical period in which each author lived and the author's choice of verse form, tone, and style.

Newly revised, and read by an ensemble of contemporary poets, The Classic Fifty Poems is a feast for poetry lovers.

©1990, 1997 Columbia University Press (P)16 9; 1998 HighBridge Company

What the critics say

"Why did no one think of this before?" (The New York Times Book Review)

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Patrick
  • 2005-04-17

technical comment

My problem with this audio collection is that it contains no list of poems and poets. To find a particular poem, you need to either create your own list or poke around the audio estimating its location. I've never picked up a poetry book without a table of contents.

A technical suggestion is to segment the poems so you have the choice of going directly to a poem. An even more ambitious division would be to also segment the intro and poem separately. I'd be more likely to go back and listen to specific poems. When I feel the impulse to listen to a song, I put in a CD and go directly to the song.

From a technical standpoint, it feels like they took some of the greatest poems in literature but neglected to separate the text into verses and paragraphs.

21 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Marius
  • 2004-06-01

Good stuff here

Wonderful poetry, very well read. The commentary was a lot better than I expected, with a touch of humour. A nice variety of voices. Good stuff all round.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mavis
  • 2007-06-01

New lover

As a fairly new lover of poetry I found this production not only informative but beautifully read.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Lisa
  • 2005-08-14

Not bad

The poetry was great, with the exception of a few items (e.g. Frankie and Johnny). The musical interludes are awful and need to be updated.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • JerryT
  • 2005-03-16

Great for High School Freshmen

Also good for those who know nothing about poetry, were not a liberal arts major, or really don't have a clue about the history of poetry in the English language. Less than 45 minutes is devoted to poetry. The balance of the time is devoted to mediocre biography and general comments by a narrator. If you fit in the category of knowing nothing about poetry or are a high school freshman this is just what you need. It's otherwise worthless and I'm not certain I'd recommend it to high school freshmen.

Very little poetry. Lots of inane commentary.

9 people found this helpful