The Oxford Book of American Poetry
OUP, $75 hb, 1189 pp
Thirty years have passed since Richard Ellmann’s magisterial New Oxford Book of American Verse: a hard act to follow. Now David Lehman – poet and founder of the Best American Poetry series – has produced a successor. It is even longer than the Ellmann, and similarly generous in its individual choices. There is no stinting here, no mark of the tyranny of permissions that blights so many anthologies. Walt Whitman gets seventy poems; Emily Dickinson (who published a handful in her lifetime) has forty-three, including the cautionary ‘Publication – is the Auction / Of the Mind of Man’.