I love Sir Thomas Wyatt’s poem “They Flee from Me” and I find it so intriguing that I assigned it in every class I taught for many years. “They flee from me who sometime did me seek.” Oh, well, who hasn’t felt that? Ostracized again! He likens his courtly companions to deer, and they’re apt comparisons. I see a lot of deer. Bonus: it’s the first use of the term “newfangleness” in literature, which I thought was more newfangled than the 1500’s. Although he ends up jilted, he has made me love him. Link to They Flee from Me.
Hugo was an early hero of mine. He still is. His poems are rich and thick with imagery, and they’re fun to read out loud. But he’s also a poet not afraid to journey close to the edge of sentimentality in his writing and then move away. To me, the very best poems, like this one, combine emotion with images, feeling with sensory details in a style that moves us when we read. It’s obvious that this little town, Philipsburg, triggers the poem for Hugo, but the writing takes us below the surface of the human condition, reaching toward truth.
This short poem by Thomas Lux, whom we sadly lost a couple of years ago, is one I like to read often. It is so much a poem for today and it expresses one of our least admirable human traits with just the right balance of truth and humor. His mantra “we do this, they do that” capsulizes perfectly how little we have changed in 10,000 years.