Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

100 Men on the Words That Move Them

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Grown men don’t cry.

But in this fascinating anthology, one hundred men—distinguished in literature and film, science and architecture, theater and human rights—confess to being moved to tears by poems that continue to haunt them. Representing twenty nationalities and ranging in age from their early 20s to their late 80s, the majority are public figures not prone to crying. Here they admit to breaking down when ambushed by great art, often in words as powerful as the poems themselves.

Their selections include classics by visionaries such as Walt Whitman, W.H Auden, and Philip Larkin, as well as contemporary works by masters including Billy Collins, Seamus Heaney, Derek Walcott, and poets who span the globe from Pablo Neruda to Rabindranath Tagore.

Seventy-five percent of the selected poems were written in the twentieth century, with more than a dozen by women including Mary Oliver, Elizabeth Bishop, and Gwendolyn Brooks. Their themes range from love in its many guises, through mortality and loss, to the beauty and variety of nature. Three men have suffered the pain of losing a child; others are moved to tears by the exquisite way a poet captures, in Alexander Pope’s famous phrase, “what oft was thought, but ne’er so well express’d.

From J. J. Abrams to John le Carré, Salman Rushdie to Jonathan Franzen, Daniel Radcliffe to Nick Cave, Billy Collins to Stephen Fry, Stanley Tucci to Colin Firth, and Seamus Heaney to Christopher Hitchens, this collection delivers private insight into the souls of men whose writing, acting, and thinking are admired around the world.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 336 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476712772 | 
  • April 2014
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Read an Excerpt

Poems That Make Grown Men Cry Preface ANTHONY HOLDEN
Late one afternoon in the mid-1990s a close friend of long standing called to tell me of a sudden domestic crisis. My wife and I went straight round to join him for the evening, during which he began to quote a Thomas Hardy poem, “The Darkling Thrush.” Upon reaching what might be called the punch line—“Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew / And I was unaware”—our friend choked up, unable to get the words out. This was... see more

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