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Much of American poetry before Whitman, Dickinson, and Frost is passé today. College anthologies rarely include Longfellow or Whittier, those Great American Poets of the 1800s. This excellent selection of 65 American poems brings back those names, along with "Hiawatha," "The Raven," "Annabel Lee," "Old Ironsides," and "The Indian Student," all the favorites from our collective childhood - omitting only, it seems, "The Skeleton in Armor" and "Evangeline." It takes a certain courage and incredible skill to deliver all the verses of "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "Frankie and Johnny" without falling into melody, and this skilled ensemble delivers a highly accomplished narration of a host of American classic poems, in the tones and accents in which they have traditionally been heard.

Publisher's Summary

Walt Whitman said, "...poetry is the voice of the nation, expressing its deepest concerns, ambitions and longings," which is certainly true of the great classic poetry of America. This wide-ranging anthology, from the earliest poets of the 16th century to the present day, reflects the changing preoccupations and visions of Americans, including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, E.E. Cummings, and more. Enjoy 60 poems from leading classic figures as well as popular anonymous works such as Frankie and Johnny, which are an integral part of American consciousness.
©2000 NAXOS AudioBooks Ltd., All Rights Reserved (P)2000 NAXOS AudioBooks Ltd., All Rights Reserved

Critic Reviews

"[An] excellent selection...this skilled ensemble delivers a highly accomplished reading." (AudioFile)

What listeners say about Classic American Poetry

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • K. Howe
  • 07-11-19

Don't Listen to the Whiner

Despite the other whining reviewer, this is a great collection, on par with the rest of the Naxos recordings.

Some may hate America and wish to denigrate her. Who could be surprised that those same people are the sort who hate actual poetry, preferring instead the idiocies of modernism? Poetry is metrical. Rhyme is not necessary, but it is good. Patriotism is a fitting subject for verse.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Kirby
  • 27-11-03

Just dawdle

I found the selections of this recording tedious. There are a few classics: the best-known of Emily Dickenson, Frost's "The Road Less Travelled", "O Captain, My Captain" by Whitman. However, beyond the few gems, it's one 19th century forced rhyme scheme after another. Old, dull images, and boring language--all the sorts of things the best American poets of the 20th century rejected. It's rather sad, then, that some of the best American poetry to this date--Eliot, Stevens, Pound, etc. is passed over in favor of patriotic tripe and period pieces.

What's more, even the good poems are painful to listen to because of pompous, un-insightful narrators. The quality of the readings is so bad I found it difficult to finish any single track. One is reminded of Hamlet or Cyrano's famous diatrabs on delivery. These readers are "mouthers" of the worst sort. Awful awful awful!

Unless you're looking for a collection of poems to listen to while saluting the flag and consulting Reader's Digest, skip this one.

42 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • lalaliaka
  • 09-07-11

good reading

I hope someone can list the title and the poet for the entire CD, so I can look up the poems. Thank you.

2 people found this helpful