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Famous Poems from Bygone Days by Martin…
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Famous Poems from Bygone Days (1995)

by Martin Gardner

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When I saw this book, I had to ask myself whether I would have bought it had it been by someone other than Martin Gardner? And would it be a better book if someone else had written it?

Interesting questions both. This is, of course, not the first volume of annotations by Gardner; The Annotated Alice was and is a much-beloved example of Gardner's skills as a commentator. But that book was also a better fit for Gardner, the much-loved creator of Scientific American's Mathematical Recreations column. To annotate Lewis Carroll requires a knowledge of Charles Dodgson's mathematical gifts as well as of his approach to nonsense.

No such special skills are required here; this is simply an anthology of once-well-known poems. So there is no need for the "Gardner touch." And, indeed, it is probably a weaker book than the Annotated Alice or the Annotated Hunting of the Snark. In the commentary, Gardner often admits to being, in effect, stumped. Probably almost all the information here could be found with a quick Google search.

On the other hand, it's a solid collection of poems, with a useful organization and helpful notes. A brilliant book? No. But a helpful and enjoyable one. ( )
  waltzmn | Nov 29, 2012 |
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Epigraph
A Verseman's Apology
 
Alas! I am only a rhymer,

I don't know the meaning of Art;

But I learned in my little school primer

To love Eugene Field and Bret Harte.

I hailed Hoosier Riley with pleasure,

To John Hay I took off my hat;

These fellows were right to my measure,

And I've never gone higher than that....

--Robert Service, from Songs of a Sun-Lover
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INTRODUCTION
This book is a companion to my Best Remembered Poems, published by Dover in 1992.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0486286231, Paperback)

Over 80 poems from the 19th and early 20th centuries, from Hugh Antoine d'Arcy's "The Face on the Barroom Floor" to Phila Henrietta Chase's "Nobody's Child," rich in rhythm and rhyme, filled with feelings and stories about love and war, ships and the sea, farms and family, life and death, heaven and hell.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:55 -0400)

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