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The Heavy Bear Who Goes with Me


The Heavy Bear Who Goes with Me is the ultimate reader’s companion to poetry: a selection of 100 classic poems from five centuries with lively companion commentaries to go with and illuminate each poem. 

The heavy bear can be many things which go with the bearer: another self or alter ego, the burden of poetry or art, what weighs us down and makes us do what we don’t really want to do as well as what pulls us back to our selves, the animal side which makes us bearable or human. The editors’ selection ranges from Wyatt, Ralegh and Shakespeare in the 16th century, to Donne, Milton and Marvell in the 17th, to Swift, Pope and Johnson in the 18th. It embraces the Romantic visions of Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley and Keats, as well as the later, darker outlook of Browning, Tennyson and Hardy, and seeks enlightenment in the shadowlands of Emily Dickinson, Wilde and Yeats. 

As well as journeying with the reader through some of the greatest poems in the English language, The Heavy Bear encounters many modern poets, not least Delmore Schwartz, whose sense of conflict between self and society gave birth to this anthology’s title-poem, ‘The Heavy Bear Who Goes with Me’. Others include some of the major figures in Irish poetry whom co-editor Brendan Kennelly knew personally as well as wrote about, including Patrick Kavanagh, Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley, Derek Mahon and Eavan Boland.

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