In Princeton’s Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, you can find the papers of 20th century poetry titans like Alan Tate and Stanley Kunitz, or rare translations by the Modernist Ezra Pound. You can find manuscripts and correspondence from writers like Emily Dickinson and Alfred Lord Tennyson in the Robert H. Taylor Collection, or if you’re patient, you can wait until 2020, when Princeton will unseal the largest single collection of T.S. Eliot‘s letters in world.
Princeton’s libraries contain many remarkable opportunities to study poetry: A collection of over 800 emblem books from the Renaissance could be one place to start, or perhaps you want to inspect the papers of translator, scholar, and poet Robert Fagles, a former Princeton professor best known for his translations of The Odyssey, The Iliad, and The Aeneid. Maybe you just want to sit down at the mahogany writing desk of British poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, or perhaps you prefer to use a new digital tool like the Princeton Prosody Archive.
You can find collections from poets with Princeton ties like W.S. Merwin ’48, or sift through the papers of Eileen Simpson, wife of John Berryman, who taught here for over a decade. You can find exquisitely illuminated manuscripts and inspect them in person or online, such as a 16th century edition of a Persian epic poem, the Peck Shanamah. You can call up rare mid-century poetry pamphlets published in Brazil, reconsider the papers of the Scottish pre-Raphaelite poet William Bell Scott, or find Persian poetry manuscripts within the New Series of Islamic Manuscripts, which has been recently catalogued online. And of course, there’s always Shakespeare’s First Folio.
Explore for yourself: