First published in 1958, this collection introduced an indispensible corpus of western poetry to countless American college students, francophiles, and would-be poets — among them Patti Smith, whose vocation was once formed she says, by reading this book. The poetic and cultural tradition forged by the Symbolist poets — Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Verlaine, Appollinaire, and others — reverberated all through the avant garde and counter-cultures of the 20 th century. Modernism, surrealism, abstract impressionism, and the Beat movement are unthinkable without the instance of these poets and their theories of art, making this reissue perhaps the hippest “dead white European male” anthology ever published.
Including translations by Richmond Lattimore, W. S. Merwin, Dudley Fitts, and Richard Wilbur, this anthology has stood the test of time in relation to its selection and scholarly apparatus. Now back in print after two decades in a fresh new edition, the book features an introduction by Patti Smith that testifies to its epochal affect on her own career, in addition to the ones of other influential latter-day poets, including Lou Reed and Jim Carroll. This rediscovered gem is sure to inspire a new generation.