There’s an old Irish saying that all our wars were merry and all our songs were sad. I don’t care for merry wars, but I rate my music on its ability to encourage a cascade of tears. Now I’ve found the perfect poetry anthology to add breadth to my collection of the melancholic. Poems That Make Grown Men Cry: 100 Men on the Words That Move Them (Simon & Schuster) sounds hokey, perhaps a poor excuse to pull together some ragged and obscure verse. But when you get to the strong list of contributors, read some of their brief but oh-so-precise introductions to their favourite weepers and then fall into the chosen poem, a different sense emerges. The list of contributors is exceptionally strong, ranging from the very literate—John Ashbery, Salman Rushdie, Melvyn Bragg (revealing also the British leaning of co-editors Anthony and Ben Holden)—to the often interesting (think of Stephen Fry, Christopher Buckley and Christopher Hitchens), to the “I’m not quite sure why they were invited,” which would include actors Daniel Radcliffe, Patrick Stewart and Barry Humphries, who manage to surprise with their poetic passion. The poets are a solid if somewhat predictable group, including Seamus Heaney, Philip Larkin, Hardy and Wordsworth. W.H. Auden is the most represented with five poems. Seen through a lens of the full expression of exceptional sorrow, some familiar poetry can take on a startling nuance. One of the most intriguing outcomes of this anthology is a small but somehow perplexing fact: of the one hundred selected poems, only fifteen are by women.