School Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Adult/High School-From the colonial period to the present, the focus in this winning collection is on works that are "essential" to a full appreciation of our national culture and character. Pockell's aim is to present canonical verse, with an eye toward multi-ethnic, multicultural, and multigenerational selection. In this he is mostly successful. Readers will find the golden nuggets of such giants as Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and Robert Frost, and works from what some might consider a second tier of poets: John Greenleaf Whittier, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Edgar Lee Masters, and Lowell (three Lowells, actually). And then there are the entries that make this book stand apart from similar collections: poems and lyrics with little or no literary merit. Among these are "Yankee Doodle Dandy," "Go Down Moses," "Follow the Drinking Gourd," "Casey at the Bat," Robert Johnson's "Cross Roads Blues," and Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land." Some welcome surprises are Eugene Field's "Little Boy Blue," Amy Lowell's "A Decade," and "Sound off Marching Cadence Count." There are also some questionable selections: "Amazing Grace" by John Newton (he was English); two poems by Robert W. Service (an Englishman who wrote about the Yukon); and, most notably, T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land. Also, one could take exception to the inclusion of four poems by Anne Bradstreet but none by Phillis Wheatley. These criticisms aside, this volume deserves a place in most poetry collections.-Robert Saunderson, formerly at Berkeley Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.