- Afternoon on a Hill by Edna St. Vincent Millay
"I will be the gladdest thing under the sun!"
- Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost
"The wood are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep..."
- Nothing Will Die by Alfred Lord Tennyson
A poem that speaks to the resilience of all things: "The world was never made; It will change, but it will not fade."
- In Memoriam A.H.H. by Alfred Lord Tennyson
Though a ridiculously long poem, it's where you'll find Tennyson's most remembered quote: "'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."
- Three little birds in a row by Stephen Crane
A whimsical poem to delight readers of all ages. The author of The Red Badge of Courage
said he was much fonder of his little book of poems.
- Pastoral by William Carlos Williams
"But we who are wiser shut ourselves in on either hand and no one knows whether we think good or evil."
- A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever by John Keats
"Its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness; but still will keep a bower quiet for us, and a sleep full of sweet dreams..."
- Winter in the Boulevard by D.H. Lawrence
"Their abundant summery wordage silenced, caught in the grim undertow; naked the trees confront implacable winter's long, cross-questioning brunt."
- There Will Come Soft Rains by Sara Teasdale
One of Teasdale's best known poems about nature's resilience after the Great War's destruction. "Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree, if mankind perished utterly."
- It Was an April Morning: Fresh and Clear by William Wordsworth
"I roamed in the confusion of my heart, Alive to all things and forgetting all."
- A Shropshire Lad - II - Loveliest of Trees by A.E. Housman
A lovely poem marking the seasons of pastoral beauty compared to fleeting youth and growing old.
- An ancient pond... by Matsuo Basho
Inventor of the haiku poetry form, Basho treats us to small but rich servings of syllables heralding nature's beauty.
- Wishes by Dora Sigerson Shorter
"I wish we could live as the flowers live, to breathe and to bloom in the summer and sun; to slumber and sway in the heart of night, and to die when our glory had done."
- The Deserted Garden by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Browning's reminiscence of her secret, wild garden and lost childhood.
- Ode to a Nightingale by John Keats
One of Keats' six "Odes of 1819" and best regarded works, he wrote it in a day after watching a nightingale build a nest in a plum tree. "'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot, But being too happy in thine happiness."
- Each and All by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Existentialism and minimalism at its best: "Beauty through my senses stole; I yielded myself to the perfect whole."
- Oily Weather by Ernest Hemingway
"The sea rolls with love, surging and caressing, undulating its great loving belly."
- Magdalen Walks by Oscar Wilde
Wilde's poem almost pops with the energy of spring emerging: "The crocus-bed is a quivering moon of fire..."
- Just So Stories Poems by Rudyard Kipling
Enjoy the poems to discover how the elephant, camel, whale, leopard, armadillo and more got their animal characteristics in Just So Stories
- The Nightingale, a Conversational Poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Coleridge's 'blank verse' poetry is as natural as prose, yet as artful as a sonnet.
- A Night Thought by William Wordsworth
Every poetry collection must have least one about the moon; here's our pick. "But when the clouds asunder fly / How bright her mien!"
- To a Waterfowl by William Cullen Bryant
You can almost hear wood ducks quacking and splashing in the reeds, Bryant's poem is a vivid tribute to our fine feathered friends.
- Thanatopsis by William Cullen Bryant
"Earth, that nourished thee, shall claim, Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again..."
- To a Skylark by Percy Bysshe Shelley
"The pale purple even melts around thy flight; Like a star of heaven in the broad daylight, Though art unseen, but yet I hear thy shrill delight--"
- The World is Too Much With Us by William Wordsworth
An environmentalist's cautionary tale: "Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers: Little we see in Nature that is ours;..."
- Songs of Innocence: Laughing Song by William Blake
Considered a visionary of the Romantic Age for his literary and visual art, you might enjoy Blake's entire collection featuring his illustrations. Songs of Innocence
appeals to children's joy and whimsy. Songs of Experience
is more contemplative.
- Ode to the West Wind by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Shelley's innovative rhyming scheme called "terza rima" is employed artfully to cast nature as both destroyer and preserver.
- A Day of Sunshine by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
It's one of those days that makes you feel exhilarated! "I feel the electric thrill, the touch / Of life, that seems almost too much."
- The Lotos-Eaters by Alfred Lord Tennyson
A crew comes ashore and discovers an island's foreign flora and fauna. "And all at once they sang, Our island home / Is far beyond the wave; we will no longer roam."
- Daylight and Moonlight by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Longfellow composes poetry about the sun and the moon-- what we see everyday-- with grace and mystery.
- Christmas Trees by Robert Frost
Reads more like prose, the story of a sensible New Englander who makes a deal with a city man for the Christmas trees he didn't know he had.
- A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns
Robert Burns wrote this romantic song in the Scots language to his bonnie lass in 1794.
- Roses are Red by Mother Goose
Sometimes the classic nursery rhyme says it best.
- How Do I Love Thee? by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sure, you remember the Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd spoof, but this is the real deal! "I love thee to the depth and breadth and height..." (that's love in volume).
- My Heart and I by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Barrett's poems are described as a fresh, strange music. She expresses her love and loss of a dear friend, and coming to terms with her own imminent death.
- She Walks in Beauty by Lord Byron
One of England's greatest poets and leader of the romantic movement, Byron composed this piece in 1813 after being mesmerized by a lady dressed in black at a ball, his cousin by marriage.
- Give All to Love by Ralph Waldo Emerson
"'Tis a brave master; Let it have scope: Follow it utterly, Hope beyond hope..." Emerson encourages us to obey our heart, even if eventually "her parting dims the day."
- Meeting at Night by Robert Browning
Yes, he and his wife, Elizabeth Barrett Browning
were both romantic poets who clearly inspired each other's writing. No doubt better than your standard Valentine's Day card.
- The Last Ride Together by Robert Browning
- A November Night by Sara Teasdale
A lovely discovery, Ms. Teasdale's passionate poetry resonates beautifully as a timeless expression of love.
- I Am Not Yours by Sara Teasdale
"Oh, plunge me deep in love, put out my senses, leave me deaf and blind, swept by the tempest of your love, a taper in a rushing wind."
- Time Is by Henry Van Dyke
"Time is too slow for those who Wait, Too swift for those who Fear, Too long for those who Grieve, Too short for those who Rejoice; But for those who Love, Time is not."
- Riposte by William Carlos Williams
"Love is like water or the air my townspeople; it cleanses, and dissipates evil gases. It is like poetry too and for the same reasons."
- For Annie by Edgar Allan Poe
A dying man beyond pain and suffering, seeks to comfort his lover that their love will endure after his death.
- Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe
A loving tribute to a woman he will never forget, "For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams of the beautiful Annabel Lee..."
- To the Virgins, To Make Much of Time by Robert Herrick
You know this one from Dead Poets Society: "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may..." A carpe diem theme poem.
- Before the Cask of Wine by Li Bai
"Rise and dance / In the westering sun / While the urge of youthful ears is yet unsubdued!"
- Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare
No collection of love poems would be complete without a Shakespeare sonnet, though it should be renamed the more romantic title, Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day.
- Love and Friendship by Emily Bronte
Bronte, author of Wuthering Heights
, offers similes using the wild rose-briar and the holly-tree to contrast the endurance of both types of relationships.
- I Cannot Live Without You by Emily Dickinson
This poem is reminiscent of the old ditty: "Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em, there's something irresistable about 'em..."
- Wild Nights! Wild Nights! by Emily Dickinson
A lovely metaphor comparing love to mooring in a safe port.
- The Broken Heart by John Donne
Donne offers imagery that a cracked and worn heart reflects its many mirrored pieces, and remains capable of love (but maybe just one).
- I Do Not Love Thee by Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton
"...And often in my solitude I sigh / That those I do love are not more like thee!"
- You'll Love Me Yet by Robert Browning
Browning offers a charming simile that love is like a seed to be planted, which takes time and nurturing.
- He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven by William Butler Yeats
- Song of Myself by Walt Whitman
One of the most influential and greatest poems of all times, from Whitman's collection, Leaves of Grass.
- O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman
Whitman's tribute poem following Abraham Lincoln's assassination, it is memorably taught by John Keating in the movie, Dead Poets Society.
- The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
The poem isn't what most people think it's about; read it again to find out whether you're on the right track.
- I Taught Myself to Live Simply by Anna Akhmatova
The acclaimed Russian modernist poet, having survived a totalitarian regime, offers verses to keep us from "superfluous worry."
- Poppies on Ludlow Castle by Willa Cather
The red poppies "so cruel and gay and red" continue to thrive long after the brave knights and royalty who lived in the castle have perished.
- Ravenna by Oscar Wilde
Wilde won Oxford's prize for English verse with his recollections of this charming northern Italian capital city.
- Mending Wall by Robert Frost
This poem is where the expression comes from: "Good fences make good neighbors."
- In Flanders Fields by John McCrae
"In Flanders fields the poppies grow between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky the larks, still bravely singing, fly scarce heard amid the guns below."
- Oh Could I Raise the Darken'd Veil by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Hawthorne's lesser-known poems are a fine example of his achievements in Dark Romanticism. An interesting compliment to his well-known short story, The Minister's Black Veil
- A Thought for Washing Day by Julia Ward Howe
"The clothes-line is a Rosary of household help and care, each little saint the Mother loves is represented there."
- Ultimately by Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway's description of how truth isn't always expressed elegantly, in fact sometimes it just dribbles.
- Journey by Edna St. Vincent Millay
"All my life, Following Care along the dusty road, Have I looked back at loveliness and sighed..."
- A Dream Within a Dream by Edgar Allan Poe
Could it be true? "All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream?"
- I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud by William Wordsworth
Inspired by seeing a long belt of daffodils on a walk with his sister, Wordsworth wrote this, one of his most famous works.
- The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
This poem is where these expressions came from: "having an albatross around one's neck" and "water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink."
- My Lost Youth by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
"A boy's will is the wind's will, And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."
- Transfiguration by Louisa May Alcott
A moving tribute to her mother, Abby May Alcott, who died in 1877.
- Success is Counted Sweetest by Emily Dickinson
"Success is counted sweetest by those who ne'er succeed."
- The Song of Wandering Aengus by William Butler Yeats
You might remember this as required reading in high school. It might be more meaningful to you now, also a great exploration of music's literary form.
- Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats
Keats' most famous "ode," about love and sacrifice. "Beauty is truth, truth beauty, that is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know."
- Fire and Ice by Robert Frost
A bit apocalyptic, Frost speculates how it will all end.
- O Sleep, My Babe by Sara Coleridge
- Last Lines by Emily Bronte
"I see heaven's glories shine, And faith shines equal, arming me from fear."
- Piano by D.H. Lawrence
Lawrence's reminiscence of his childhood spent under the piano, listening to the "tingling strings."
- Grown-up by Edna St. Vincent Millay
It's true, getting old is rough.
- Lines on Ale by Edgar Allan Poe
The best part about this poem is that Poe supposedly wrote and gave it to the tavern to pay his bar tab.
- The Wanderers by Robert Browning
Joyous sailors landing ashore: "Each sail was loosed to the wind so free, Each helm made sure by the twilight star..."
- Our Little Ghost by Louisa May Alcott
Not the least bit spooky, "For, in this happy little soul, shines a sun that never sets."
- The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred Lord Tennyson
"Their's not to reason why, Their's but to do and die, Into the valley of Death."
- The Battle Hymn of the Republic by Julia Ward Howe
What became the most popular song for the Union during the Civil War, Howe wrote the acclaimed lyrics, "Mine eyes have seen the glory" after an inspiring visit with President Lincoln in 1862.
- The Dying Christian to His Soul by Alexander Pope
An evocative poem about the end of life, leading us to question what's next.
- If by Rudyard Kipling
This poem is reminiscent of an "if...then" statement, only much more provocative.
- In Memoriam 131: O Living Will That Shalt Endure by Alfred Lord Tennyson
"Rise in the spiritual rock, Flow thro' our deeds and make them pure..."
- Sorrow by Aubrey Thomas de Vere
both have works sharing the same title, de Vere's stands alone for its spiritual gravity: "Grief should be, Like joy, majestic, equable, sedate; Confirming, cleansing, raising, making free..."
- Grandmother's Battle of Bunker Hill As She Saw It From the Belfry by Oliver Wendell Holmes
A home's rooftop view allowed this grandmother to be an eye witness to what became the start of the Revolutionary War.
- Boston by Ralph Waldo Emerson
This poem was read in Faneuil Hall on the Centennial of the Boston Tea Party.
- Casey at the Bat by Ernest Lawrence Thayer
"It looked extremely rocky for the Mudville nine that day..."
- The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot
Here's a day in the life of a really insecure man who wants you to think he's cool.
- Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll
"'Twas brilling, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe;" -- it's just fun to read aloud!
- The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll
This "agony of fits" is a self-described nonsense poem based on this line: "Then the bowsprit got mixed with the rudder sometimes."
- The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carroll
- A Valentine by Lewis Carroll
A more apt title for this poem is "A Very Un-Valentine." I think Carroll would agree.
- If Those I Loved Were Lost by Emily Dickinson
A short, quirky Dickinson poem, too good not to share.
- A Certain Lady by Dorothy Parker
Parker's cynicism is rather biting and amusing, but perhaps not to the man she's addressing.
- A Little Poem by George Orwell
Having never thought of George Orwell as a poet, this was a nice discovery, and well-suited to his canon.
- A Song About Myself by John Keats
Quite different from Walt Whitman's Song of Myself
, Keats' simple rhyming scheme is playful and fresh, about himself as a "naughty boy" who runs away.
- Kubla Khan: or A Vision in a Dream by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Describing his trip to Xanadu, Coleridge composed it in one night coming off of an opium-stupor. It took critics years before it was openly admired.
- He loved three things, alive: by Anna Akhmatova
Akhmatova, one of the highest regarded Russian modernist poets, has a number of arresting poems like this. A wonderful diversion if you need a reminder to avoid taking yourself too seriously.
- You should appear less often in my dreams by Anna Akhmatova
"Yet only in night's sanctuary are you sad, troubled, and tender."
- Daybreak by Jack London
You may not think of Jack London as a poet, acclaimed for The Call of the Wild
and man versus nature themes; which makes this tender poem an unexpected treat.
- Songs of Innocence: Infant Joy by William Blake
"I happy am, Joy is my name." Enjoy the entire collection of Songs of Innocence
poems, all from a child's perspective or for children's enjoyment.
- A.B.A. by Louisa May Alcott
An endearing tribute to Alcott's father, Amos Bronson Alcott.
- Pippa's Song by Robert Browning
It's a perfect spring day: "All's right with the world!"
- Old Song by Edward FitzGerald
"Then with an old friend I talk of our youth-- How 'twas gladsome, but often foolish, forsooth; but gladsome, gladsome!"
- This Land Is Your Land by Woody Guthrie
The most famous American folk song: "This land is your land, this land is my land, from California to the New York Island, from the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters, this land was made for you and me."
- The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."
- Christmas Bells by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Ring in the holidays with Longfellow's festive poem.
- Carol by Kenneth-Grahame
- Christmastide by H.P. Lovecraft
An exceedingly bright and cheery poem (especially for Lovecraft).
- Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns
Meaning "old long since," this poem is usually sung to bring in the new year or other sentimental occasions.