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The Little Book of Modern Verse; a selection from the work of contemporaneous American poets   By: (1869-1948)

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The Little Book of Modern Verse; a selection from the work of contemporaneous American poets, compiled by Jessie Belle Rittenhouse, is a captivating anthology that showcases the evolution of American poetry during the early 20th century. By curating a diverse collection of poems, Rittenhouse provides readers with a multifaceted exploration of modern verse, demonstrating the vast range of styles, themes, and voices that emerged during this transformative period.

One of the book's greatest strengths lies in its meticulous selection of poems, which offers a comprehensive representation of the era's most prominent poets. Rittenhouse's choices strike a perfect balance between celebrated figures and lesser-known talents, ensuring readers receive a well-rounded understanding of the prevailing poetic trends of the time. From the introspective musings of Robert Frost to the bold experimentation of T.S. Eliot, this anthology encompasses a rich tapestry of voices that highlight the vast breadth of American poetic expression.

Rittenhouse's thoughtful arrangement of the poems further adds to the book's coherence and impact. By grouping the poems thematically rather than chronologically, the anthology facilitates a deeper exploration of recurring motifs and ideas. The reader is taken on an immersive journey, delving into themes such as love, nature, spirituality, and the complexities of the human condition. This deliberate arrangement encourages readers to engage in a more meaningful dialogue with the poems, facilitating a greater appreciation for the breadth of emotions and experiences they convey.

Moreover, Rittenhouse's insightful editorial commentary accompanying each poem enhances the reader's understanding and appreciation of the work. Her brief yet insightful introductions provide context, shedding light on the poet's life, influences, and the societal backdrop against which their words were composed. This additional layer of information serves as a gateway for readers to delve deeper into the complexities of the poems, enabling a more profound connection with the poets and their creations.

However, the book's length may present a minor challenge for readers seeking a more comprehensive overview of the era's poetic landscape. While Rittenhouse's selection is commendable, its limitation to a relatively small number of poets means that some significant voices may have been left unrepresented. Nonetheless, this shortcoming is outweighed by the book's overall coherence and its ability to capture the essence of the poetic movements that defined the period.

"The Little Book of Modern Verse" is a valuable resource for both poetry enthusiasts and those curious about the shifting landscapes of American literature. Rittenhouse's thoughtful compilation provides a captivating glimpse into the minds and hearts of the poets who shaped the era, their words continuing to resonate with readers even in the present day. This anthology serves as a testament to the evocative power of poetry and its ability to transcend time, making it an essential addition to any bookshelf dedicated to the exploration of American literature.

First Page:

The Little Book of Modern Verse ed. Jessie B. Rittenhouse

[Note on text: Italicized lines or stanzas are marked by tildes (~). Other italicized words have capitalized. Lines longer than 78 characters are broken and the continuation is indented two spaces. Some obvious errors may have been corrected.]

The Little Book of Modern Verse A Selection from the work of contemporaneous American poets

Edited by Jessie B. Rittenhouse [Selections made in 1913.]


"The Little Book of Modern Verse", as its name implies, is not a formal anthology. The pageant of American poetry has been so often presented that no necessity exists for another exhaustive review of the art. Nearly all anthologies, however, stop short of the present group of poets, or represent them so inadequately that only those in close touch with the trend of American literature know what the poet of to day is contributing to it.

It is strictly, then, as a reflection of our own period, to show what is being done by the successors of our earlier poets, what new interpretation they are giving to life, what new beauty they have apprehended, what new art they have evolved, that this little book has taken form. A few of the poets included have been writing for a quarter of a century, and were, therefore, among the immediate successors of the New England group, but many have done their work within the past decade and the volume as a whole represents the twentieth century spirit... Continue reading book >>

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