'The Rattle Bag' edited by Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes is, as you can see from the photo, a well thumbed book. This anthology was the first I ever bought back when I started inflicting poetry on my children. A friend bought the twins a book of Caribbean children poems as a gift and I so enjoyed reading them aloud that the interest took off from there. I would lie on the sofa and flick through the book, periodically announce 'this is a good one', and proceed to interrupt everyone else's day. It does not have a theme of any kind and attempts to give a very broad overview of the subject of poetry, with a slight emphasis on the classics. It contains many well loved and known verses; my only criticism would be its over fondness for Shakespearean monologues, which I would not strictly consider poems.
For J today I give you this poem from Randall Jarrell, that I encountered here and that left my heart in my throat. A whole lifetime told in five lines, vivid and exquisite.
The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner
From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.
(Linking back to the A to Z Challenge)