A dazzling literary exploration by acclaimed poet and critic Michael Schmidt, The First Poets brings to life the great Greek poets who gave our poetic tradition its first bearings and whose works have had an enduring influence on our literature and our imagination. Starting with the legendary Orpheus and the possibly mythical Homer, Schmidt conjures a host of our literary forebears. From Hipponax, 'the dirty old man of poetry', to Theocritus, the father of pastoral; from Sappho, who threw herself from a cliff for love, to Hesiod, who claimed a visit from the Muses – the stories in The First Poets masterfully merge fact and conjecture into animated and compelling portraits of our cultural ancestors. 'Every poet should buy a copy of this book to keep on their bookshelves. And, when the occasion arises, they should throw it at the cynic who may try to ignore or demean them' Independent.