any poems you cannot live without?

Hi folks…newbie here…

By way of breaking the ice, I’m wondering if folks would care to talk poetry.
I have been reading all kinds of great poems lately, and am always on the lookout for new favourites…of all periods, styles…

I was wondering what poem(s) people just cannot live without, and could re-read incessantly without losing that great rush…

I understand we cannot quote whole poems here, so I’ll just begin by naming 2 poems that I really cannot get tired of reciting in my head.

“Dream Variations” by Langston Hughes, which seems to me a perfect gem,
and “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop…ironic and melancholy: my 2 favourite flavours…

Can’t quite say I can’t live without them, but a few favorites are:

Ozymandias, by Shelley
The Listeners, by De La Mare
The Highwayman, by Noyes

and haiku by Basho, Issa, Buson, and quite a few English language ones

There are a couple poems from my childhood that I adore.

A Walking Stick Went Walking can’t remember the poet’s name.
“A walking stick went walking, where it met a looking glass.
They had to step aside to let a riding stable pass…”

Dragonswitch by D.C. Troicuk (sp?)
“Across all time and space
A place
Exists in fables rich
A land they all
Call Jehmal
Where lives the Dragonswitch…”

Other poems I really enjoy are Poe’s Annabelle Lee, Plath’s Never Try to Trick Me With A Kiss, and Kipling’s A Smuggler’s Song.
There are many many more poems that I can read over and over again, but those are the ones that come to mind.

“An Irish Airman forsees his death” - Yeats

I’m a newbie too. I’m not sure about the board’s policy on quotes, but I’ll try one line from “High Flight”:

I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung my eager craft through footless halls of air.

I hate winter and have a hard time getting though it (and I’m in the South, for pity’s sake!) So last year when someone on another list I’m on posted the poem that this is excerpted from, it quickly became a “must-read” on those winter-blah days. (I don’t know the author though.)

Deep in the arms of winter

Deep in the arms of winter
The snow falls like a blessing.
The wild things sleep below the ground.
They are not cold, they are not lonely
Deep in the arms of winter…
It goes like that for a couple more stanzas. It’s immeasurably comforting to me somehow.

The Jumblies by Edward Lear

I sure I could live without, but I always liked The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams.

Which you can read here:

Well, it kind of became a poem after her speech, but this is one of my favorites.

Good idea for a thread, maddiesilver! Welcome to SDMB to you, Manach and if6was9!

Rembrance by Ray Bradbury (It took my breath away the first time I read it. You have to be middle-aged to read it. I think there’s a law.) :wink:

Lake Isle of Innesfree and Easter,1916 by Yeats. He is my favorite, so I could have listed many.

George Gray from SPOON RIVER ANTHOLOGY by Edgar Lee Masters

The best book of poetry that I’ve seen in a long time is GOOD POEMS collected by Garrison Keillor. They are the ones he has read on the air daily at NPR.

This is my favorite poem:

Conscientious Objector
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
I shall die, but
that is all that I shall do for Death.
I hear him leading his horse out of the stall;
I hear the clatter on the barn-floor.
Click the link if you want to read the rest.

Also, my husband read Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening at our outdoor January wedding. The lake around us was frozen and surrounded by woods. (We married at the end of a covered pier.)[/hijack]

Cliched perhaps, but I’d say The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.

The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry

I love the Wendell Berry poem, Atreyu and can’t resist posting one more. For the whole poem you have to click the link and scroll about half way down the page. It’s worth it. The poem is by Ted Kooser. In part:

So This Is Nebraska

The gravel road rides with a slow gallop
over the fields, the telephone lines
streaming behind, its billow of dust
full of the sparks of redwing blackbirds…


So this is Nebraska. A Sunday
afternoon; July. Driving along
with your hand out squeezing the air,
a meadowlark waiting on every post.

As I’ve said to everyone else’s exhaustion (but can’t keep from nattering about) T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets. I’ve got the first two memorized (Burnt Norton and East Coker), and together with Tennyson’s Ulesses, they form my mantras.

There is, it seems to us, only a limited value
In the knowledge derived from experience.
The knowledge imposes a pattern, and falsifies
For the pattern is new in every moment
And every moment is a new and shocking
Valuation of all we have been. We are only undeceived
Of that which, deceiving, could no longer harm…
The only wisdom we can hope to aquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.

Ezra Pound’s River-Merchant’s Wife, A Letter is pretty integral to my mental furniture, too. Actually, it’s difficult to choose the poems most important to me.

My beloved Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “If I should learn, in some quite casual way.”
If I should learn, in some quite casual way,
That you were gone, not to return again–

The whole poem is here:

I love it. Can’t read it too often.


In the ninth grade, our English teacher made our class memorize the poem <b>Invictus</b> . I cannot remember the name, of the author, but I believe the last name was Henly, or something close to that. At the time Mr. Edwards said that at sometime during our lives each of us would be tested in someway. He said that if we could remember this poem’s message, it would help us pass our test, whatever it was.
At the time I thought he was just a flaky old teacher in his last year before retirement. Now, more than twenty years later, I think he was a genius.
The final stanza goes like this:

It matters not how straight the gate,
How charge with punishment the scroll,
For I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
I’ve faced many tests, and I’m sure I’ll face many more, and Mr. Edwards was right.

Although my fellow English majors will all look down their snooty, pedantic noses at me, roll their eyes and say, “Well, that’s not a real poem; it’s just a silly children’s rhyme,” my favourite poem of all-time is “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll (aka Charles Lutwidge Dodgson). Clever, delightful, entertaining, descriptive.

Number two on the list is sonnet CLI by William Shakespeare, my third fave is “Pied Beauty” by Gerard Manley Hopkins, fourth is “The Eve of St. Agnes” by John Keats and fifth is “Strange Meeting” by Wilfred Owen.

Welcome aboard, maddiesilver and if6was9.