What are the poems one returns to, always taking pleasure?
Or to put it slightly differently, what poems would enjoy the
place of honor in one's Absolute Anthology (no fair including
warhorses, chestnuts, and poems one is supposed to like)?
I'd start with Frost's "Fire and Ice," for its astounding compression
and bite--a coiled spring of mostly monosyllables--snapping those
two dimeter lines in place while avoiding the risk of chiming
(too-close rhyming). The rhymes "fit" perfectly yet catch one
And the thought? I'm perfectly willing to entertain readings
hinting at apocalypse and at corrosive, mysterious human
emotions, and no doubt other readings in between. The sense of
dread and mystery is there, but so is the strong, forthright-
My ninth-grade Speech teacher (all honor to Ellen Harvey)
first spoke this poem in class. She had it by heart, and
it had my heart ever after.