The Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey is a place where many great English poets are buried. The Poet’s Corner at Sheep Among Wolves Publishing is a place where many great English poems are dug up again. Both highlight poetry which is great, but while the Poet’s Corner at Westminster looks solely at literary merit, the SAW Publishing Poet’s Corner requires something more. The poems must be Good as well as Great. Good and great prose literature is hard enough to find, but good and great poetry is possibly even harder. I have spent several years looking for poets whose works were good as well as great. But I think I may have been making a mistake. Rather than looking for acceptable poets, perhaps my focus should have been acceptable poems. And encouragingly, there are some poems from many different sources which do meet these very high ideals in both good and great categories.
I must admit that when it comes to great poetry, I am a little bit of a perfectionist. A poem must have faultless rhyme and smooth, flowing metre to give me unqualified pleasure. I really don’t like the class of poem in which “good” and “food”, or “word” and “sword” are made to rhyme with each other. In fact, in technical terminology, I like true rhyme and not slant rhyme. And when it comes to metre I like the poems which if they claim to have a given number of syllables, have that number in every line, although I admit that sometimes this rule can be broken without detriment to the flow.
Having weeded out a large quantity of poems merely by my definition of great, the number is significantly reduced when it comes to good poems. It seems to me that in poetry as well as in prose, we should allow ourselves to read nothing that we would not allow ourselves to associate with in life. This is a difficult point to stick to, but really it is very hard to get much pleasure out of even the greatest structural poetry if its content cannot be read with a clear conscience. In contrast, it is always rewarding to find a truly great poem, written by an author of evident talent, dedicated to the praise for which it is so fit. Just like a well-written piece of prose, great poetry used appropriately can be very powerful for good. Although there are many poems we would be wrong in filling our minds with, there are many still in existence which are good as well as great.
The Poet’s Corner at Sheep Among Wolves is a place where we can share with you some of these gems from various genres and time periods of English poetry. This does not mean that we are promising “perfect poets”, or recommending all of the works of any given author, but it does mean showcasing some truly uplifting poetry written sometimes directly to the glory of God, sometimes indirectly so, which at the same time satisfies the longing for beautiful poetry.
I hope that in this series of posts I may be able to give you access to the great and good poems I have found, as well as some of my own compositions, and that I may also encourage you to read, and some of you to write, poetry which is pleasing to God as well as uplifting to man.
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