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MINUTE PARTICULARS

Blake Anthologies

In examining ten poetry anthologies published in 1974-75 for “Introduction to Literature” courses,11 The anthologies consulted are William C. Cavanaugh, ed., Introduction to Poetry (Dubuque: Wm. C. Brown, 1974). John Ciardi and Miller Williams, eds., How Does a Poem Mean? (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1974). Frank Brady and Martin Price, eds., Poetry: Past and Present (N.Y.: Harcourt, 1974). James Burl Hogins, ed., Literature: Poetry (Chicago: SRA, 1974). J. Paul Hunter, ed., Poetry (N.Y.: Norton, 1975). X. J. Kennedy, ed., An Introduction to Poetry, 3rd ed. (Boston: Little, Brown, 1974). John Frederick Nims, ed., Western Wind: An Introduction to Poetry (N.Y.: Random House, 1974). Laurence Perrine,[e] ed., Sound and Sense: An Introduction to Poetry, 4th ed. (N.Y.: Harcourt, 1974). Richard Sugg, ed., Appreciating Poetry (Boston: Houghton, 1975). Henry Taylor, ed., Poetry: Points of Departure (Cambridge, Mass.: Winthrop, 1974). Note that several of these anthologies are among the most widely sold in the nation. I discovered the following surprising (and for the Blake enthusiast, gladdening) facts: first, Blake appears in all ten. If most of the poetry read in this country is read from college texts (and I suspect it is) and if most of this poetry appears in “Introduction to Literature” anthologies, Blake is now among the most commonly anthologized poets in the language. Second, Blake and Pope, the latter also appearing in all ten, are the most anthologized of all eighteenth-century British poets (Swift, who appears in eight, is next). In regard to Blake, these statistics parallel those gathered by MLA, which show that at present there is more scholarly interest in him than in any other eighteenth-century British author.22 MLA Newsletter, Dec. 1973, p. 4. We should add, however, that each of the five other major Romantics, Byron, Coleridge, Keats, Shelley, and Wordsworth, also appear in all ten anthologies and thus the Romantic Movement itself is highly represented, for only twenty-seven poets appear in all ten volumes. Third, “The Tyger” is one of only two poems that appear in all ten anthologies (“Dover Beach” is the other). This may indicate that “The Tyger” is the most commonly printed poem in the language and certainly indicates that it is the most commonly anthologized eighteenth-century poem (the next, Gray’s “Elegy,” appears in only seven). From the five other major Romantics, “Kubla Khan” and “Ozymandias” do appear in nine of the volumes, and Keats’ “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer” and “Ode on a Grecian Urn” in eight, but no other poem from the Romantics appears in more than six.

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