Editor : Russ Kick
Pretty much every poet in every age has written about death and dying. Along with love, it might be the most popular subject in poetry. Yet, until now, no anthology has gathered the best and most famous of these verses in one place.
This collection ranges dramatically. With more than 320 poems, it goes across all of history, from the ancients straight through to today. Across countries and languages, across schools of poetry. You’ll find a plethora of approaches–witty, humorous, deadly serious, tear-jerking, wise, profound, angry, spiritual, atheistic, uncertain, highly personal, political, mythic, earthy, and only occasionally morbid.
Every angle you can think of is covered–the deaths of children, lost loves, funeral rites, close calls, eating meat, serial killers, the death penalty, roadkill, the Underworld, reincarnation, elegies for famous people, death as an equalizer, death as a junk man, death as a child, the death of God, the death of death . . . .
You’ll find death poetry’s greatest hits, including:
“Because I Could Not Stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson
“To an Athlete Dying Young” by A.E. Housman
“Do not go gentle into that good night” by Dylan Thomas
“When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d” by Walt Whitman
“Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe
The rest of the band includes . . . Jane Austen, Mary Jo Bang, Willis Barnstone, Charles Baudelaire, William Blake, Charlotte Brontë, Lord Byron, Lucille Clifton, Andrei Codrescu, Wanda Coleman, Billy Collins, Ralph Waldo Emerson, T.S. Eliot, Nick Flynn, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Frost, Kimiko Hahn, Homer, Victor Hugo, Langston Hughes, James Joyce, C.S. Lewis, Amy Lowell, W.S. Merwin, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Pablo Neruda, Thich Nhat Hanh, Friedrich Nietzsche, Wilfred Owen, Rainer Maria Rilke, Christina Rossetti, Rumi, Sappho, Shakespeare, Wallace Stevens, Ruth Stone, Wislawa Szymborska, W.B. Yeats, and a few hundred more.