Partly at the suggestion of T. David Gordon, I have taken up the project of reading through Harold Bloom’s wonderful The Best Poems of the English Language: from Chaucer through Robert Frost. Gordon argues brilliantly that, in order to be able to write, it is first of all necessary to be able to read, and to do be able to read something as a text — that is, not merely for its content, but for its literary form and beauty. C. S. Lewis describes beautifully what this entails in a quote posted earlier. One of the best ways to continue to grow in this ability is to maintain a steady diet of poetry. I have admired in this regard the consistency of James K. A. Smith, for example, and am now endeavoring to do something similar. Once I complete this volume, I hope to join my wife in reading Poetry magazine.
My intention through this project is to post favorite selections here as I come across them. We begin with a selection from Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure (Bloom, p. 122).
Be absolute for death; either death or life
Shall thereby be the sweeter. Reason thus with life:
If I do lose thee, I do lose a thing
That none but fools would keep: a breath thou art,
Servile to all the skyey influences,
That dost this habitation, where thou keep’st,
Hourly afflict: merely, thou art death’s fool;
For him thou labour’st by thy flight to shun
And yet runn’st toward him still.