Sound and Sense: An Introduction to Poetry was just that for me—an introduction. The author, Laurence Perrine (I believe my edition, which is packed, on its way to Louisville, was only authored by Perrine) drew me into a book that I first disdained. I was not a poetry kind of guy. Not at all. But, in 10th or 11th grade, our English class read this book. My original copy is long gone. Abandoned in my parents’ attic, I believe it was thrown out. Such is life.
I was, a few years ago, able to secure a copy that is exactly like the one we used in high school. I’m still not gaga over poetry, but this book did a lot to make me more appreciative to poetry and to understand it more.
Of all the poems in the book, my favorite has to be Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost:
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
These verses take me home. I remember going out at night in the dead of winter and watching the it snow in the woods behind our house. It also brings back memories of December with the line The darkest evening of the year, being of course the first day of winter, December 22nd.
The other poem that I often quote the first line (especially when I’m at work) is Terence this is stupid stuff…
‘Terence, this is stupid stuff:
You eat your victuals fast enough…
I think of the opening line when something inane happens at work (Simply Mac).
If you’re looking for a good introduction to poetry, especially for someone who doesn’t like poetry, Sound and Sense is the book for you.