“Our superficial, materialistic, media-driven culture often seems uncomfortable with the true depths of feeling,” writes Edward Hirsch in the introduction to 100 Poems to Break Your Heart. “It’s as if the culture as a whole has become increasingly intolerant of that acute sorrow, that intense mental anguish and remorse that can be defined as grief. We want to medicate such sorrow away.” In this anthology, Hirsch collects one hundred poems from the past two hundred years that contend with grief and loneliness—from poets such as William Wordsworth, César Vallejo, Gwendolyn Brooks, Louise Glück, and Victoria Chang—and accompanies each poem with an essay discussing use of language and literary devices, as well as historical context. The celebrated poet and critic uses his years of expertise to break down each poem’s lasting impact, allowing for any reader to learn as well as relish the pleasure of an emotional education in this expertly arranged collection.
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