For this section we are indebted to the great work of the Poetry Foundation, which makes available many works published after 1922 and thus still under copyright. In making this list I have also preferred their site as a source even for works that are in the public domain, since it’s more convenient to click on a link and read a poem than it is to download a book of poetry to find one or two works. Many, maybe all, of the poems listed below that were published in or before 1922 can also be found on Project Gutenberg.
Updated March 5, 2019. 9:00 PM
Here we will try to demystify poetry. You’ll learn to express the gist of a poem in your own words, and I’ll encourage you with the old saying, “When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.”
- Yeats, W. B., “The Lake Isle of Innisfree.” Poetry Foundation.
- Hayden, Robert. “Those Winter Sundays.” Poetry Foundation.
- Sheehan, Julie. “Hate Poem.” Poetry Foundation.
Modes of Poetry
This section samples some modes, or styles of address, in which poems have been written. The Dickinson poems are lyrics. “Out, out–” is a narrative poem, and “Ulysees” is a dramatic monologue.
- Dickinson, Emily. “After great pain, a formal feeling comes – (372)” Poetry Foundation.
- Dickinson, Emily. “Wild nights – Wild Nights! (269)” Poetry Foundation.
- Frost, Robert. “Out, out – .” Poetry Foundation.
- Tennyson, Alfred (Lord). “Ulysees.” Poetry Foundation.
The personification of memory, to the ancient Greeks, was Mnemosyne, and Mnemosyne was the mother of the muses. We remember poetry because of poetic form. We will start with vowel and consonant music and move on to rhyme, rhythm, meter, and fixed forms.
- Hopkins, Gerard Manley. “The Windhover.” Poetry Foundation.
- Bishop, Elizabeth. “Visits to St. Elizabeths.” Poetry Foundation.
- Larkin, Phillip. “Sad Steps.” Poetry Foundation.
- Lord Byron, George Gordon. From Don Juan, Canto 1, stanzas 41-2. Poetry Foundation.
- Keats, John. “To Autumn.”
- Stallings, A. E. “Sine Qua Non.” Poetry Foundation.
- Bishop, Elizabeth. “One Art.” Poetry Foundation.
In the world poetry an image is more than visual; it can mean any phrase that quickly communicates a sensory experience. You’ll find more images than average in the poems below.
- H. D., “Evening.” Poetry Foundation.
- Stevens, Wallace. “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” Poetry Foundation.
- Wright, James. “Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota.” Poetry Foundation.
- Tate, James. “The Wheelchair Butterfly.” Poetry Foundation.
- Ai. “Nothing But Color.”
The simile, the metaphor, and more.
- Shakespeare, William.
- Heaney, Seamus. “Digging.” Poetry Foundation.
- Hardy, Thomas. “Neutral Tones.” Poetry Foundation.
- Donne, John. “The Flea.” Poetry Foundation.
Theme and Symbol
It could be that all poems have a theme, a central idea on which they meditate. In these poems, those themes are especially prominent. I have placed here as well for poems of strong social commentary. From the beginning I have encouraged you to look first at the literal meaning of a poem’s words, but it’s also true that in some poem the surface meaning really does hint at something beyond. You’ll find those poems here as well.
- Three War Poems
- Brooke, Rupert. “The Soldier.” Poetry Foundation.
- Owen, Wilfred. “Anthem for Doomed Youth.” Poetry Foundation.*
- Auden, W.H. “The Shield of Achilles.” Poetry Foundation. 3 pages; use right arrow. The allusion here is to Thetis, mother of Achilles, who asked the smith Hephaestus to make her son a shield.
- Plath, Sylvia. “Edge.” Poetry Foundation.
- Brooks, Gwendolyn. “kitchenette building.” Poetry Foundation.
- Atwood, Margaret. “Marrying the Hangman.” Poetry Foundation.
- Whitman, Walt. “I Hear America Singing.” Poetry Foundation.
- Hughes, Langston.
- Ginsberg, Allen. “America.” Poetry Foundation.
*You can hear “Anthem for Doomed Youth” read by Sir Ian McKellen and “The Soldier” read by Simon Russel Beale here.
A Deeper Dive
We’ll close out the poetry unit lspending a class period on this poem.