Our theme for the library this year is What a Wonderful World, and to that end, we’re focusing on seeing the wonder in our world. Usually, every month at the desk, we have an article available for patrons to read and discuss with Julie, our library director, but this year, we’re handing out poems instead. Our trusty library goose is also helping us pen a monthly column that focuses on some of the gems in our poetry collection.
For March, our poem is John Freeman’s “Against the Cold Pale Sky.”
I’d not actually heard of 20th century English poet John Freeman before doing the research for this post. I’d like to think I’m fairly well-read, but he just was never on my radar, even as an English major.
He is most famous for his inclusion in the Georgian Poetry anthologies. These collections were published in the 1910s and 1920s and included some of the more famous names in English poetry at the time (such as Robert Graves and Siegfried Sassoon).
To modern critics, the Georgian school of poetry is more a historical curiosity than anything, uneasily occurring between the Victorian and Modern eras of literature. While praising the talents of the more famous poets associated with the movement, many critics dismissed the nature-focused work as overly sentimental and outdated, but its goal was to bring poetry to a wider audience, and in that, it succeeded.
We don’t have any of the poetry of the Georgian poets in our collection, but we do have an American author whose work fits the description. Like the Georgians (whose time he does overlap with), Indiana-born James Whitcomb Riley often had his work dismissed as overly sentimental, but he was one of the most popular poets in America in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
We have a complete collection of his work (The Complete Poetical Works of James Whitcomb Riley) at the library. Please stop by and check out the work of this American poet who now seems largely forgotten.
Who is your favorite poet? What’s your favorite poem? Do you ever write poetry? Tell us in the comments! As always, please follow this link to our online library catalog for more information on this item or to place it on hold.