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Old 12-31-2013, 06:48 AM   #1
DiggertheDog
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Post Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Welcome to my 2014 Blog.
The purpose of this blog is to give an account of my reading throughout 2014. I will be giving my reading list each month and approximately the order of the books that will be read. My goal is to read 100 novels, biographies and non-fiction works for 2014. You should expect a post from me most days and a brief review with a rating of each book that I read whenever I finish each of them.
My motivation for writing this blog is to build a habit of writing regularly in a more formal register on a regular basis. The criteria for my reading list is to educate myself in the classic novels of the English canon as well as important philosophical and historical works.
Also, I am interested in building upon my existing knowledge of poetry. As a consequence I shall be posting a couple of poems each week or as much as one a day from poems that I have read that day.
Finally, I intend to read 10 Shakespeare plays that I have not read before throughout 2014 (concurrent to my other reading activities).

I am open to recommendations for my reading list: but if they are not literary works or serious works of non-fiction - do not be surprised if I politely decline.

Digger's 2014 Blog Workload
100 Books
100 Poems
10 Shakespearean Plays
100 Book Review and Rating

January Reading List
1.A Farewell to Arms by E. Hemingway
2.Gulliver's Travels by J. Swift
3.Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
4.What Do You Care What Other People Think? Richard P. Feynman
5.One Hundred years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
6.Madame Bovary by G. Flaubert
7.Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T.E. Lawrence
8.Catch-22 Joseph Heller

I am 40 odd pages into A Farewell to Arms, which I purchased recently, so that is the book which will kick off this odyssey. The balance of my January reading list are mostly books which have been staring back at me from my bookshelf for varying periods of defiance. If you have recommendations place them prior to 15th of the month as I will be building my library with Amazon purchases of each months reading.

Do I expect to meet this huge workload? You bet. Honestly, I will give it a real shake if I do not get there.

Anyway, pleased to meet you.
Speak to you soon.
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Old 12-31-2013, 02:19 PM   #2
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

love you digger
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Old 12-31-2013, 06:09 PM   #3
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words



I look forward to reading it
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Old 12-31-2013, 06:28 PM   #4
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Surprised that you have not read some of the book from January list.

I'm happy if I read more than 100 books. Around 60 this year, but did not read like 3,5 months. Tho some of these prolly count as books for you.

GL
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Old 12-31-2013, 06:32 PM   #5
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

I mostly read fantasy and some lighter stuff and maybe few serious books. My reading went downhill when I got computer in 6th grade. But I try to reccomend few books, but chances are high that you have already read my reccomendations.
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Old 12-31-2013, 06:43 PM   #6
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Do you have read?

RLS "Kidnapped"
Scott "Ivanhoe"
Hašek " The Good Soldier Švejk"
ACD "Lost world"
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Old 12-31-2013, 07:33 PM   #7
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

From what I'm seen of this man's POG posting, the blog title will prove to be quite apt.
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Old 01-01-2014, 12:16 AM   #8
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Although I am only about halfway through Farewell to Arms, it is apparent that the central concern of the novel centres upon wounded characters. Trent Henry, an American ambulance officer on the Italian front during World War I, is injured and develops his relationship with Catherine Barkley, a Scottish nurse. Both are injured characters, Mr Henry - the narrator - physically via a mortar shell and Catherine - emotionally - as her first 'love' has already died. Both are 'outsiders' to the war - Mr.Henry is not actually a soldier nor is he Italian, Catherine is a Scottish nurse who is characterised at a distance from her colleagues.
Up until this point - there is a developing love story between the two characters who, whilst they profess their love for one another often with almost manic repetition, appear unable to connect in any meaningful way. Bearing in mind they have been together for awhile at this point:
"We were quite awhile and did not talk. Catherine was sitting on the bed and I was looking at her but we did not touch each other. We were apart as when some one comes into a room and people are self-consious.(Ch21, p125 - Vintage Classic Ed.)
Through his narrator's monologues - Hemingway ruminates on the differences between war and defeat with a sombre touch sometimes almost as an aside. All the characters appear affected by the long shadow of the conflict. The war itself is a character, almost always (at least up until this point), slightly offstage yet whose presence appears to impact upon the outlook of everyone.

Last edited by DiggertheDog; 01-01-2014 at 12:29 AM.
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Old 01-01-2014, 12:25 AM   #9
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Quote:
Originally Posted by Willi View Post
Surprised that you have not read some of the book from January list.

I'm happy if I read more than 100 books. Around 60 this year, but did not read like 3,5 months. Tho some of these prolly count as books for you.

GL
Quote:
Originally Posted by Willi View Post
Do you have read?

RLS "Kidnapped"
Scott "Ivanhoe"
Hašek " The Good Soldier Švejk"
ACD "Lost world"
Surprised that you have not read some of the book from January list.
Which books are you referring to?

I do not think I have read any of your selections.
Walter Scott's Ivanhoe is one I am likely to read.
I will need to look up the others before I commit to reading them. If I recall correctly, I have only read Treasure Island of all Stevenson's work and that was a long time ago, although I might have read Jeckyll/Hyde but that tale is so ubiquitous that I might be misremembering.
I am unaware of the other books.
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Old 01-01-2014, 01:13 AM   #10
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

My Native Land

Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burn'd,
As home his footsteps he hath turn'd
From wandering on a foreign strand!
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no Minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonour'd, and unsung.

Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)

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Old 01-01-2014, 03:05 AM   #11
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

I feel bad for people who are missing this.
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Old 01-01-2014, 05:19 AM   #12
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Quote:
Originally Posted by DiggertheDog View Post
Surprised that you have not read some of the book from January list.
Which books are you referring to?

I do not think I have read any of your selections.
Walter Scott's Ivanhoe is one I am likely to read.
I will need to look up the others before I commit to reading them. If I recall correctly, I have only read Treasure Island of all Stevenson's work and that was a long time ago, although I might have read Jeckyll/Hyde but that tale is so ubiquitous that I might be misremembering.
I am unaware of the other books.
I had to read #1 and #2 in HS. #5 and #6 are also little surprising

You really should read Švejk. Really famous and liked book in Europe (at least in continental Europe).
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Old 01-01-2014, 05:38 AM   #13
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Ok.
I have read the first couple of chapters of Gulliver's Travel a couple of times and given up each time. I know One Hundred years and Madame Bovary are classics - I bought them when a sale went up on them last year but kept finding something else to read.

Trying to think on my HS reading lists - it was more than 20 years ago.

King Lear
Taming of the Shrew
Julius Caesar
Macbeth
Persuasion
The Outsiders
The Spy who came in from the Cold
1984
A Christmas Carol

Thats all that I can think of - off the top of my head.
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Old 01-01-2014, 05:47 AM   #14
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

University English Literature courses I read
Hamlet
The Tempest
King Lear
Othello
Merchant of Venice
Romeo and Juliet
Macbeth
Sonnets

The Castle of Otranto H. Walpole
Mists of Avalon Bradley
The Name of the Rose Umberto Eco
News from Nowhere Morris

+
Some of the texts on criticism etc.

Probably missing a text or two.

But that would be the novels/plays that I have had to critically read.
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Old 01-01-2014, 05:59 AM   #15
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Quote:
Originally Posted by DiggertheDog View Post
Ok.
I have read the first couple of chapters of Gulliver's Travel a couple of times and given up each time. I know One Hundred years and Madame Bovary are classics - I bought them when a sale went up on them last year but kept finding something else to read.

Trying to think on my HS reading lists - it was more than 20 years ago.

King Lear
Taming of the Shrew
Julius Caesar
Macbeth
Persuasion
The Outsiders
The Spy who came in from the Cold
1984
A Christmas Carol

Thats all that I can think of - off the top of my head.
Some of the books like Gulliver's travels I had to read only some part of that book.

I think I remember best books I did not like too much.
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Old 01-01-2014, 06:01 AM   #16
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

I had like 4 or 5 different literature teachers in high school.
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Old 01-01-2014, 06:08 AM   #17
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Did it make a difference who your teacher was?
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Old 01-01-2014, 09:08 AM   #18
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Yup

It was coolest class with good and likeable teachers and my writing skill improved lot in last year and with some teachers classes were total pain in the ass.
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Old 01-01-2014, 10:52 AM   #19
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

sup digger
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Old 01-02-2014, 03:46 AM   #20
DiggertheDog
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Hi bigger, How is life?
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Old 01-02-2014, 04:03 AM   #21
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Review of A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway.

The great strength of Hemingway's approach to character is that it allows the reader space to interpret the interactions between his characters. His 1st person narrator does not hold a priviledge position for insight or observation which allows us to draw our own conclusions about the impact of the war, love and sorrow upon the cast of his novel. There appears to be, at least to my eyes, a strong auto-biographical prism for this narrator --> Hemingway was on the Italian front, he was an alcoholic - both being common with T. Henry.
His prose is accessible to all readers with a limited vocabulary and simple imagery employed. It is not really a plot driven novel with a very simple linear development of events and is more a meditation on relationships. The war is a pervasive influence upon all the characters despite the fact that there are only a few scenes of it in the narrative.
The fact that many will anticapate the ending does not take away from its impact.
9/10
Finished Jan 2nd 5pm

Digger's Reading List
1. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (~290pages) 9/10

I am going to begin Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel tonight....this is slightly bigger bite size of 650 pages.
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Old 01-02-2014, 04:12 AM   #22
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Having just finished a novel set around World War I and given it is approaching the centenary of its beginning, I thought a WWI poem would be appropriate.

Dulce et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! -- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under I green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, --
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.


Wilfred Owen. (1893-1918)


Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori is a line from the Roman lyrical poet Horace's Odes (III.2.13). The line can be roughly translated into English as: "It is sweet and fitting to die for your country."
Five-Nines = German WWI artillery shell model.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dulce_e...ro_patria_mori

It is enlightening to contemplate the view of Scott in My Native Land (#19 of this blog)and this poem of Owen's on patriotism. However you view World War I, no one can deny its pervasive impact upon Western culture even to this day.

Last edited by DiggertheDog; 01-02-2014 at 04:18 AM.
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Old 01-02-2014, 08:33 AM   #23
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Hi..
I was watching this video about the origins of the Genesis 1-4 and its connection to early Mesopotamian creation myth.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANUD8IK12ms
I starting ferreting around the mythology of Babylon ---> I stumbled across and never knew that William Blake was also a painter. Of course I was aware that he was a poet but I was not aware he was a painter. Anyway here is an example of one of his work...he liked to reinterpret, through image, Milton/Dante amongst others with his translations/illustrations.
Below is a picture of Blake "Life of William Blake" Pictor ignotus (Painter unknown - I just learnt that) taken from Life of William Blake by Adam Gilchrist (1863) and fulfilled by the Rosetti's.

Below is his painting depicting Dante's Canto V accompanying that Dante's Canto V from Inferno...


Inferno: Canto V

Thus I descended out of the first circle
Down to the second, that less space begirds,
And so much greater dole, that goads to wailing.
There standeth Minos horribly, and snarls;
Examines the transgressions at the entrance;
Judges, and sends according as he girds him.
I say, that when the spirit evil-born
Cometh before him, wholly it confesses;
And this discriminator of transgressions
Seeth what place in Hell is meet for it;
Girds himself with his tail as many times
As grades he wishes it should be thrust down.
Always before him many of them stand;
They go by turns each one unto the judgment;
They speak, and hear, and then are downward hurled.
"O thou, that to this dolorous hostelry
Comest," said Minos to me, when he saw me,
Leaving the practice of so great an office,
"Look how thou enterest, and in whom thou trustest;
Let not the portal's amplitude deceive thee."
And unto him my Guide: "Why criest thou too?
Do not impede his journey fate-ordained;
It is so willed there where is power to do
That which is willed; and ask no further question."
And now begin the dolesome notes to grow
Audible unto me; now am I come
There where much lamentation strikes upon me.
I came into a place mute of all light,
Which bellows as the sea does in a tempest,
If by opposing winds 't is combated.
The infernal hurricane that never rests
Hurtles the spirits onward in its rapine;
Whirling them round, and smiting, it molests them.
When they arrive before the precipice,
There are the shrieks, the plaints, and the laments,
There they blaspheme the puissance divine.
I understood that unto such a torment
The carnal malefactors were condemned,
Who reason subjugate to appetite.
And as the wings of starlings bear them on
In the cold season in large band and full,
So doth that blast the spirits maledict;
It hither, thither, downward, upward, drives them;
No hope doth comfort them for evermore,
Not of repose, but even of lesser pain.
And as the cranes go chanting forth their lays,
Making in air a long line of themselves,
So saw I coming, uttering lamentations,
Shadows borne onward by the aforesaid stress.
Whereupon said I: "Master, who are those
People, whom the black air so castigates?"
"The first of those, of whom intelligence
Thou fain wouldst have," then said he unto me,
"The empress was of many languages.
To sensual vices she was so abandoned,
That lustful she made licit in her law,
To remove the blame to which she had been led.
She is Semiramis, of whom we read
That she succeeded Ninus, and was his spouse;
She held the land which now the Sultan rules.
The next is she who killed herself for love,
And broke faith with the ashes of Sichaeus;
Then Cleopatra the voluptuous."
Helen I saw, for whom so many ruthless
Seasons revolved; and saw the great Achilles,
Who at the last hour combated with Love.
Paris I saw, Tristan; and more than a thousand
Shades did he name and point out with his finger,
Whom Love had separated from our life.
After that I had listened to my Teacher,
Naming the dames of eld and cavaliers,
Pity prevailed, and I was nigh bewildered.
And I began: "O Poet, willingly
Speak would I to those two, who go together,
And seem upon the wind to be so light."
And, he to me: "Thou'lt mark, when they shall be
Nearer to us; and then do thou implore them
By love which leadeth them, and they will come."
Soon as the wind in our direction sways them,
My voice uplift I: "O ye weary souls!
Come speak to us, if no one interdicts it."
As turtle-doves, called onward by desire,
With open and steady wings to the sweet nest
Fly through the air by their volition borne,
So came they from the band where Dido is,
Approaching us athwart the air malign,
So strong was the affectionate appeal.
"O living creature gracious and benignant,
Who visiting goest through the purple air
Us, who have stained the world incarnadine,
If were the King of the Universe our friend,
We would pray unto him to give thee peace,
Since thou hast pity on our woe perverse.
Of what it pleases thee to hear and speak,
That will we hear, and we will speak to you,
While silent is the wind, as it is now.
Sitteth the city, wherein I was born,
Upon the sea-shore where the Po descends
To rest in peace with all his retinue.
Love, that on gentle heart doth swiftly seize,
Seized this man for the person beautiful
That was ta'en from me, and still the mode offends me.
Love, that exempts no one beloved from loving,
Seized me with pleasure of this man so strongly,
That, as thou seest, it doth not yet desert me;
Love has conducted us unto one death;
Caina waiteth him who quenched our life!"
These words were borne along from them to us.
As soon as I had heard those souls tormented,
I bowed my face, and so long held it down
Until the Poet said to me: "What thinkest?"
When I made answer, I began: "Alas!
How many pleasant thoughts, how much desire,
Conducted these unto the dolorous pass!"
Then unto them I turned me, and I spake,
And I began: "Thine agonies, Francesca,
Sad and compassionate to weeping make me.
But tell me, at the time of those sweet sighs,
By what and in what manner Love conceded,
That you should know your dubious desires?"
And she to me: "There is no greater sorrow
Than to be mindful of the happy time
In misery, and that thy Teacher knows.
But, if to recognise the earliest root
Of love in us thou hast so great desire,
I will do even as he who weeps and speaks.
One day we reading were for our delight
Of Launcelot, how Love did him enthral.
Alone we were and without any fear.
Full many a time our eyes together drew
That reading, and drove the colour from our faces;
But one point only was it that o'ercame us.
When as we read of the much-longed-for smile
Being by such a noble lover kissed,
This one, who ne'er from me shall be divided,
Kissed me upon the mouth all palpitating.
Galeotto was the book and he who wrote it.
That day no farther did we read therein."
And all the while one spirit uttered this,
The other one did weep so, that, for pity,
I swooned away as if I had been dying,
And fell, even as a dead body falls.

Do not fret - I am not going to read Dante's Inferno - this year as I have already read it.
Whilst I am an atheist - as a lover of books - it is hard to ignore the most popular work of literature and works that play on it. Apparently, one cannot appreciate Dante without knowing Italian....unfortunately having wasted near 40 years of my life that appreciate might have to skip this dilettante.
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Old 01-02-2014, 08:41 AM   #24
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Beg my pardon: the connection between pre-genesis Babylonian...was
The title, meaning "when on high", is the incipit. The first tablet begins:

When the sky above was not named,
And the earth beneath did not yet bear a name,
And the primeval Apsű, who begat them,
And chaos, Tiamat, the mother of them both,
Their waters were mingled together,
And no field was formed, no marsh was to be seen;
When of the gods none had been called into being.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/En%C3%BBma_Eli%C5%A1
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Old 01-02-2014, 03:31 PM   #25
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

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Originally Posted by DiggertheDog View Post
Also, I am interested in building upon my existing knowledge of poetry. As a consequence I shall be posting a couple of poems each week or as much as one a day from poems that I have read that day.
Do you know these websites for poetry? Both very useful:
Representative Poetry Online (RPO): http://rpo.library.utoronto.ca
Poets.org: http://www.poets.org/page.php/prmID/58
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