The New Oxford Book of English Verse, 1250-1950, Hardback Book
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


The New Oxford Book of English Verse is now firmly established as a classic anthology of English poetry.

Chosen by the distinguished scholar and critic, Dame Helen Gardner, the book makes available in one volume the full range and variety of English non-dramatic verse.

Dame Helen Gardner reflected the critical consensus of the day in broadening her choices beyond those of Quiller-Couch's lyrical tastes, and the anthology balances poems that deal with public events and historic occasions with poems of private life, and religious, moral or political verse with satire and light verse.

All the major poets are fully represented, and there are also superb works by lesser known poets, and many surprises among the favourites.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 992 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Poetry
  • ISBN: 9780198121367



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This is a fantastic collection of 884 poems. The book is 944 pages long, which means that most poems tend to be fairly short. I love dipping into it for a moment or two and - even now that most of these poems can be found for free on the internet - it is wonderful to have such a diverse collection of poems on hand.My main complaint is that the book does not function very well as a work of reference. It has no contents page, which means that even finding out whether a particular poem is included in the anthology is quite difficult. There is an index of first lines, which makes the lack of a contents page even more bizarre. For the most part, when a poet is particularly well-known for composing a particular poem, it will be included. Shelley's 'Ozymandias' is included, for instance, as are 'Dover Beach' by Matthew Arnold and 'Ode to a Nightingale' by John Keats. There are other places, however, where Gardner's selection is perhaps a little too academic. As an authority on the work of John Donne, it is unsurprising that Gardner includes 19 of his poems. However, few of what I would regard as his most famous poems (such as 'The Calme', 'The Flea' and 'Elegy on his mistress going to bed') are included. And if you're expecting to be able to read Kipling's 'If-'... forget about it!This is not to say that the poems which are included are not worth reading, but I think this functions best as a book which can be treasured, dipped into, or read from cover to cover, rather than as a handy work of reference.