Immortal Poems of the English Language

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Immortal Poems
Here is the most inclusive anthology of verse ever published at so low a price. It contains not only the best-known works of the British and American masters but also the verse of the most brillant poets of our own day. Oscar Williams, who compiled Immortal Poems, was a distinguished editor and poet in his own right, of whom Robert Lowell wrote in the Sewanee Review: "Mr. Williams is probably the best anthologist in America ...

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Immortal Poems
Here is the most inclusive anthology of verse ever published at so low a price. It contains not only the best-known works of the British and American masters but also the verse of the most brillant poets of our own day. Oscar Williams, who compiled Immortal Poems, was a distinguished editor and poet in his own right, of whom Robert Lowell wrote in the Sewanee Review: "Mr. Williams is probably the best anthologist in America today."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671496104
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Publication date: 8/28/1983
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 624
  • Sales rank: 516,529
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Oscar Williams (1900-1964), editor of this book, was himself a distinguished poet. The author of five books of poetry, including That's All That Matters and Selected Poems, he has been called "clever, disconcerting, rash" (Lionel Abel) and "a very real and important poet...(whose) powerful imagery and unique personal idiom will add a permanent page to American poetry" (Dylan Thomas).
Mr. Williams achieved literary distinction not only as a highly original and vigorous American poet, but also as one of the great poetry anthologists of his time. His most outstanding anthologies are "The Little Treasury Series," The War Poets, Immortal Poems of the English Language, The Pocket Book of Modern Verse and The New Pocket Anthology of American Verse, the latter three published by Pocket Books. These are accepted as present-day classics in their fields and are in wide use in colleges and universities. Other anthologies include a revised edition of Palgrave's The Golden Treasury, The Major British Poets, The Major American Poets, and The Silver Treasury of Light Verse.
Mr. Williams' last and most ambitious anthology was Master Poems of the English Language, now also published by Pocket Books. A huge work of over 1100 pages, illustrated with portraits of the poets and combining a comprehensive anthology with a broad sampling of critical writing, it is a superb contribution by the man Robert Lowell called "probably the best anthologist in America."

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Read an Excerpt


1340? — 1400


Hyd, Absolon, thy gilte, tresses clere;

Ester, ley thou thy meknesse, al a-doun;

Hyd, Jonathas, al thy frendly manere;

Penalopee, and Marcia Catoun,

Mak of your wyfhod no comparisoun;

Hyde ye your beautes, Isoude and Eleyne,

Alceste is here, that al that may desteyne.

Thy faire bodye lat bit nat appere,

Lavyne; and thou, Lucresse of Rome toun,

And Polixene, that boghte love so dere,

Eek Cleopatre, with al thy passioun,

Hyde ye your trouthe in love and your renoun;

And thou, Tisbe, that hast for love swich peyne:

Alceste is here, that al that may desteyne.

Herro, Dido, Laudomia, alle in-fere,

Eek Phyllis, hanging for thy Demophoun,

And Canace, espyed by thy chere,

Ysiphile, betrayed with Jasoun,

Mak of your trouthe in love no bost ne soun;

Nor Ypermistre or Adriane, ne pleyne;

Alceste, is here, that al that may desteyne.

The Complaint of Chaucer to His Purse

To you, my purse, and to non other wight

Complayne I, for ye be my lady dere!

I am so sory, now that ye been light;

For certes, but ye make me hevy chere,

Me were as leaf be layd upon my bere;

For whiche unto your mercy thus I crye:

Beth hevy ageyn, or elles moote I dye!

Now voucheth sauf this day, or hit be night,

That I of you the blisful soun may here,

Or see your colour lyk the sonne bright,

That of yelownesse hadde never pere,

Ye be my lyf, ye be myn hertes stere,

Quene of comfort and of good companye:

Beth hevy ageyn, or elles moote I dye!

Now purse, that be to me my lyves light,

And saveour, as doun in this world here,

Out of this toune help me through your might,

Sin that ye wole nat been my tresorere,

For I am shave as nye as any frere,

But yet I pray unto your curtesye:

Beth hevy ageyn, or elles moote I dye!


O conquerour of Brutes Albyon,

Which that by lyne and free eleccion

Ben verray king, this song to you I send;

And ye, that mowen al our harmes amend,

Have mind upon my supplicacioun!


1460? — 1529

Lullay, Lullay

With, Lullay, lullay, like a childe

Thou slepist to long, thou art begilde.

"My darling dere, my daisy flowre.

Let me," quod he, "ly in your lap."

"Ly still," quod she, "my paramoure,

Ly still hardely, and take a nap."

His hed was hevy, such was his hap,

All drowsy dreming, drownd in slepe,

That of his love he toke no kepe,

With, Hey, lullay, etc.

With ba, ba, ba, and bas, bas, bas,

She cherished him both cheke and chin,

That he wist never where he was;

He had forgotten all dedely sin,

He wantid wit her love to win:

He trusted her payment, and lost all his pay:

She left him sleeping, and stale away.

The river routh, the waters wan,

She sparid not to wete here fete;

She wadid over, she found a man

That halsid her hartely and kist her swete:

Thus after her cold she cought a hete.

"My lefe," she said, "routith in his bed;

Ywis he had an hevy hed."

What dremist thou, drunchard, drousy pate!

Thy lust and liking is from thee gone,

Thou blinkerd blowboll, thou wakist to late,

Behold, thou lieste, luggard, alone!

Well may thou sigh, well may thou grone,

To dele with her so cowardly:

Ywis, poule-hachet, she blerid thine i.


Sumer Is Icumen In

Sumer is icumen in,

Lhudè sing cuccu;

Groweth sod and bloweth med

And springth the wudè nu.

Sing cuccu!

Awè bleteth after lomb,

Lhouth after calvè cu;

Bulluc sterteth, buckè verteth;

Murie sing cuccu.

Cuccu, cuccu,

Wel singès thu, cuccu,

Ne swik thu naver nu.

Sing cuccu nu! Sing cuccu!

Sing cuccu! Sing cuccu nu!

I Sing of a Maiden

I sing of a maiden

That is makeles;

King of all kings

To her son she ches.

He came al so still

There his mother was,

As dew in April

That falleth on the grass.

He came al so still

To his mothers bour,

As dew in April

That falleth on the flour.

He came al so still

There his mother lay,

As dew in April,

That falleth on the spray.

Mother and maiden

Was never none but she;

Well may such a lady

Goddes mother be.

The Falcon

Lully, lulley! lully, lulley!

The faucon hath borne my make away!

He bare him up, he bare him down,

He bare him into an orchard brown.

In that orchard there was an halle,

That was hangéd with purple and pall.

And in that hall there was a bed,

It was hangéd with gold sa red.

And in that bed there li'th a knight,

His woundés bleeding day and night.

At that bed's foot there li'th a hound,

Licking the blood as it runs down.

By that bed-side kneeleth a may,

And she weepeth both night and day.

And at that bed's bead standeth a stone,

Corpus Christi written thereon.

Lully, lulley! lully, lulley!

The faucon hath borne my make away.

My Love in Her Attire

My love in her attire doth show her wit,

It doth so well become her:

For every season she hath dressings fit,

For winter, spring, and summer.

No beauty she doth miss,

When all her robes are on:

But Beauty's self she is,

When all her robes are gone.

O western wind, when wilt thou blow,

That the small rain down can rain?

Christ, if my love were in my arms

And I in my bed again!

Love Not Me

Love not me for comely grace,

For my pleasing eye or face,

Nor for any outward part:

No, nor for a constant heart!

For these may fail or turn to ill:

So thou and I shall sever.

Keep therefore a true woman's eye,

And love me still, but know not why!

So hast thou the same reason still

To doat upon me ever.

There Is a Lady Sweet and Kind

There is a Lady sweet and kind,

Was never face so pleased my mind;

I did but see her passing by,

And yet I love her till I die.

Her gesture, motion, and her smiles,

Her wit her voice my heart beguiles,

Beguiles my heart, I know not why,

And yet I love her till I die.

Cupid Is wingèd and doth range,

Her country so my love doth change:

But change she earth, or change she sky,

Yet will I love her till I die.

Copyright © 1952 by Simon & Schuster Inc.

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Table of Contents

Geoffrey Chaucer
John Skelton
Anonymous: Songs & Ballads
Sir Thomas Wyatt
Sir Philip Sidney
Sir Walter Raleigh
Sir Edward Dyer
Edmund Spenser
George Peele
Samuel Daniel
Michael Drayton
Christopher Marlowe
William Shakespeare
Thomas Nashe
Thomas Campion
Ben Jonson
John Donne
John Webster
Robert Herrick
George Herbert
James Shirley
Thomas Carew
Edmund Waller
John Milton
Sir John Suckling
William Cartwright
Richard Crashaw
Richard Lovelace
Abraham Cowley
Andrew Marvell
Henry Vaughan
John Dryden
Thomas Traherne
William Douglas
George Berkeley
John Gay
Alexander Pope
William Oldys
Thomas Gray
William Collins
Christopher Smart
Oliver Goldsmith
William Cowper
Thomas Chatterton
William Blake
Robert Burns
William Wordsworth
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Thomas Campbell
Walter Savage Landor
Thomas Moore
Leigh Hunt
George Gordon, Lord Byron
Percy Bysshe Shelley
William Cullen Bryant
John Keats
Thomas Hood
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Thomas Lovell Beddoes
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
John Greenleaf Whittier
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Edward FitzGerald
Edgar Allan Poe
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Robert Browning
Edward Lear
Emily Brontë
James Russell Lowell
Herman Melville
Walt Whitman
Charles Kingsley
Arthur Hugh Clough
Julia Ward Howe
Matthew Arnold
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
George Meredith
Christina Rossetti
Emily Dickinson
Lewis Carroll (C. L. Dodgson)
Sir W. S. Gilbert
Algernon Charles Swinburne
Thomas Hardy
Sidney Lanier
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Robert Bridges
William Ernest Henley
Francis Thompson
John Davidson
A. E. Housman
George Santayana
William Butler Yeats
Rudyard Kipling
Ernest Dowson
Edgar Lee Masters
Edwin Arlington Robinson
W. H. Davies
Walter De La Mare
Robert Frost
John Masefield
Sarah N. Cleghorn
Carl Sandburg
Harold Monro
Vachel Lindsay
Wallace Stevens
William Carlos Williams
Elinor Wylie
D. H. Lawrence
Ezra Pound
Rupert Brooke
Robinson Jeffers
Edwin Muir
Marianne Moore
Thomas Stearns Eliot
John Crowe Ransom
Conrad Aiken
Edna St. Vincent Millay
John Peale Bishop
Archibald MacLeish
Wilfred Owen
E. E. Cummings
Robert Graves
F. R. Higgins
Allen Tate
Hart Crane
Oscar Williams
Ogden Nash
C. Day Lewis
Richard Eberhart
Peter Quennell
Esther Mathews
William Empson
Vernon Watkins
W. H. Auden
Louis MacNeice
Stephen Spender
Alfred Hayes
W. R. Rodgers
Elizabeth Bishop
Lawrence Durrell
F. T. Prince
Delmore Schwartz
Karl Shapiro
George Barker
Henry Reed
John Manifold
Robert Lowell
Gene Derwood
Dylan Thomas
Index of First Lines
Index of Authors and Titles

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 17, 2011

    My favorite poetry book

    I've loved this collection since I was a teenager. All of my aunts and uncles pased it around the family before it got to me (an earlier edition but the same works were included.) To the reviewer who only wanted The Raven, perhaps you should have bought a collection of Poe's works. I love this book for its inclusion of wonderful but lesser known poems; sometimes it is a good thing to expand your horizons.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 30, 2012

    Good Collection, somewhat outdated

    This used to be my favorite anthology of poetry, and over the years I had lost it. Rereading it now, it is very much attuned towards the classics and big names,the Elizabethans, Poe, Blake,Tennyson, Keats, Auden etc, with nothing later than Dylan Thomas, which leaves out almost an entire two generations of poetry, and completely skips lesser known poets. Nonetheless, what is in it is the established backbone of well known poems from a variety of traditional greats, and if you have a gap in your library on such older material, at 447 poems, it's a good value for the money. A much more inclusive and up to date collection would be any of the recent Norton Anthologies.

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  • Posted July 29, 2011

    So glad this is still in print!

    My high school boyfriend gave me a copy of this book almost 30 years ago. The boyfriend is long gone, but the book remains, much read, and greatly loved. This is the book that introduced me to many poets and poems that have become dear friends. I still pull it out of my desk drawer, cover missing, pages loose, to share poems with my students. I'm so glad to find this book still in print.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2006

    Try another one

    Sure, for 7 dollars, this is a pretty fair deal. But there are so many good poems missing from this anthology that sometimes I regret buying this book, even if it IS cheap. Williams did not include some very famous poems, including Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven. I understand that since this is a Pocket Book, the selections must be extremely limited, but still, I would've liked to have that poem and others in here. Additionally, the pages are thin, and the print is small and often blurry. And, since it is 2006, you might want to get a newer poetry anthology, and not this one from 30 years ago. To speak good about it, it is extremely convenient to carry with you anywhere, but be careful to not rip the pages.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted April 24, 2010

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    Posted April 19, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2009

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