The Long Price Quartet by Daniel AbrahamSaint Patrick’s Day always sees me returning to my favorite poet, William Butler Yeats, whose grave I made a pilgrimage to many a year ago. Though he might be the most famous, Yeats is hardly the only wordsmith from Ireland; for such a tiny land, it exports a hell of a lot of good poetry.

Which got me to thinking about poetry in fantasy. Tolkien, of course, made huge use of it in his works (your mileage may vary as to whether that’s a good or bad thing). But so have other authors — whether within the work itself, or as inspiration (see “Vaster than Empires, and More Slow” by Ursula K. LeGuin), as epigraph, or even by using poets as main characters, as Daniel Abraham does in his sublime LONG PRICE QUARTET.

So I’m curious about your own thoughts on the topic — how do you feel about poetry in your fantasy? Do you read the poems? Skim them? Skip them entirely? Throw the book against the wall at the first sign of verse? Do any stick out as particularly well done (or, if you’re feeling a little mean today, not so well done)?

As always, one random commenter will choose a book from our stacks.


  • Bill Capossere

    BILL CAPOSSERE, who's been with us since June 2007, lives in Rochester NY, where he is an English adjunct by day and a writer by night. His essays and stories have appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other literary journals, along with a few anthologies, and been recognized in the "Notable Essays" section of Best American Essays. His children's work has appeared in several magazines, while his plays have been given stage readings at GEVA Theatre and Bristol Valley Playhouse. When he's not writing, reading, reviewing, or teaching, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course or the ultimate frisbee field.