November 30, 2019

"I knew that they were paper backs. They arrived on time, undamaged."

I was amused by this wan review — at Amazon — of "Complete Poems and Selected Letters of John Keats (Modern Library Classics)":
I bought two copies of this book, one for myself and one for my grandson (only 5, but he was able to recite There was a naughty boy in front of his and another class at his school in Kent) they met expectations, I knew that they were paper backs. They arrived on time, undamaged.
I was buying the book for myself, after Keats came up in that post today about the "Midwestern zest for consensus." You remember, I was researching the word "zest" and got to that fantastic Keats poem with the magnificent "zest"/"breast" rhyme ("O! let me have thee whole,—all—all—be mine!/That shape, that fairness, that sweet minor zest /Of love, your kiss,—those hands, those eyes divine/That warm, white, lucent, million-pleasured breast"). I decided I wanted to read more text at that high level.

I bought the Kindle version, so I didn't need to worry — like that man in Kent — about the thing arriving damaged. I read his review because he gave it 4 stars, and I was curious why anyone would give something like this other than 5 stars. I still don't know why he marked it down. Because it only met but did not exceed expectations? Because he doesn't really like paperbacks, but that's what it was. He knew it, but still.

One person gave the book only 1 star. The review: "Front cover torn, 25+ pages dog eared and back cover folded on itself." Did not meet expectations!

Anyway, maybe you have a 5 year old who can memorize "There was a naughty boy." That link goes not to Amazon but to Poetry by Heart, a great resource for those — including children — who want to commit poetry to memory. Kids start here.


tcrosse said...

The grandson who has poetry by heart is lucky the man is from Kent and not from Nantucket.

MSG said...

I have a different opinion about star ratings. The other day I was taking a product survey with instructions that effectively suggested that anything less than all stars meant that something was wrong. This offended me and I quit the survey. I saw this as self-serving ratings inflation. A proper system allows the customer a way of indicating that the product was better than merely good enough -- via five stars. (Perhaps naively, that is how I interpret other people's five stars.) To prod the customer up to giving five stars when the experience was merely satisfactory was in my opinion cheating.

Yancey Ward said...

Not really, tcrosse

There Was Once A Man From Kent
Whose Tool Was So Long That It Bent
To Save Him The Trouble
He Put It In The Double
And Instead Of Coming He Went.

Yancey Ward said...

The limerick was published by Keats under his pseudonym "Johnson Feet".

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

million-pleasured breast

She sounds like a real slut.

tim maguire said...

I followed the link. He doesn’t seem so naughty. Standards were different then.

Clyde said...

There once was a young man from Kent
Whose poetry came and then went.
He learned each new rhyme
In magnificent time,
But his mem'ry wasn't worth a cent.

William said...

Keats should be read in leather volumes with uncut pages by a comfortable fire in a leather armchair on an estate in Kent.

stephen cooper said...

free links to the OED at the linked site.

gilbar said...

i buy lots of fly fishing gear
MANY times the top rated reviews say either:
I bought this for my husband, and he's looking forward to trying it out if he goes fly fishing
I just bought this for myself, and i'm looking forward to trying it out once i learn how to fly fish

Personal requests....
IF you haven't used the product, please don't review it
IF you haven't used it, and have Never fly fished, please don't review it
IF you insist on reviewing Anyway, ask yourself WHY you're giving it 5 stars?

wildswan said...

The best book ever on poetry and poets in the nineteenth century or maybe any century is Keats by Walter Jackson Bates. If you've ever wondered - why poetry? read this. Your questions answered, your doubts resolved. In paper back on Amazon.

Michael K said...

Long ago, when I was an English Major for a year, we studied Keats and the contest between him and Leigh Hunt, another well known poet at the time. They made a bet on a poem to be written in a short time.

Keats' effort.

The same poem topic by Leigh Hunt.

Remember he was a famous poet, perhaps more famous than Keats at the time. Genius is illustrated.

samanthasmom said...

I found an obscure book on Amazon that was the story of my 3rd great-grandmother. It was an exciting story, well-researched, and pretty well-written. I was asked by Amazon to review the book. To the best of my knowledge I'm not related to the author. I gave the book 4 stars, but I mentioned in the review I am related to the subject of the book so Amazon rejected the review based on my familial connection to the book. That my relationship with the subject of the book allowed me to attest to the books authenticity didn't matter. My daughter-in-law is a published author. I can't review her books because we have the same last name, but her own mother can and does. Take reviews of books at Amazon with a grain of salt. That being said, I often look at Goodreads before I buy a new book. It shows me reviews of books by readers who have liked the same books I have liked in the past.

rcocean said...

Nothing is more annoying then reading Amazon reviews of a Movie or Book, and getting tons of moronic comments about the reviewers sales experience or the physical nature of the Book. Like:

War and Peace. Book arrived late. One Star!
Gone with the Wind. DVD Scratched - got substitute. One Star!
The Complete Proust. Books arrived on time. Loved the Cover art. Four Stars!

Rob said...

My favorite thing on Amazon is not the loopy reviews that downgrade a product because the package was left in the rain but the unresponsive answers to questions. A questioner will write, "What are the dimensions of this product?" and somebody will answer, "I don't know."

I don't know? Did the responder imagine that this was a two-person conversation and it would be impolite not to answer? Are they so narcissistic that they think the world wants to hear from them, even if they have nothing to say? And people this clueless are driving next to us on the highway at 60 mph, and their vote counts as much as yours and mine. The mind boggles.

rcocean said...

Further, some reviewers are unreliable and don't understand the rating system. If every movie you look at gets 4 or 5 stars, you don't understand it.

rcocean said...

I really hated this movie. 4 stars.

rcocean said...

"Take reviews with a grain of salt."

Yes. When it comes to books/movies most 5 star reviews on good reads or Amazon seem to be written by the authors friends or his publisher. Normally, i start with the 3 star reviews and then look at the 1-2 star reviews. This gives me a better idea of how good the movie is.

rcocean said...

Boys go through a phase where you can teach them romantic poetry like:

Kipling - IF
Horatio at the Gate
Charge of the Light Brigade.

But that window usually closes by about 12.

rcocean said...

"Crossing the Bar" by Tennyson, was used at Reagan's Funeral with great effect. Maybe Nancy learned it in school. I haven't read a lot of Keats. "Ode on a Grecian Urn"

Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal – yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair! (lines 17–20)

Craig Howard said...

This comment thread met all my expectations. I’m giving it just 4 stars, though, because I found it too short.

Nancy said...

A lot of Keats' poetry is trash. I include "There was a naughty boy".

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