Recommend books of poetry

Or even just the poems.

I don’t know if the Cafe Society frowns down upon asking for information for completely selfish reason, but thats what this is. I don’t plan on fighting ignorance with these poems. I plan on reciting them to a girl.

In the interest of love… here’s my fav.

I almost went to bed
without remembering
the four white violets
I put in the button-hole
of your green sweater
and how i kissed you then
and you kissed me
shy as though I’d
never been your lover

  • Leonard Cohen

Look at Shakespeare’s sonnets, maybe some Marlowe, and check out Donne’s love poems. There’s one called “The Flea” or somesuch which is pretty hot.

Andrew Marvel’s “To His Coy Mistress” is designed to get women into bed (through making them scared of dying, rather disturbingly). Shakespeare’s sonnets are a more conventional approach. Personally, I’d play 'er some Barry White.

My favorites are Wallace Stevens and Robert Frost.

Maybe I’m weird, but my husband snagged me with Billy Collins, Alice Fulton, and Sarah Manguso. They’re all contemporary, and wonderful. Arguably, Billy Collins is more of a sure thing than Whitman or Shakespeare combined.

Oh, and if she’s really weird, and has a good sense of humor, try Letters to Wendy by Joe Wenderoth. Might want to skim that one over at the bookstore first, though.

What does it mean to be “a sure thing” in poetry?


Oh, I see now about the “sure thing.” In that case, some of e.e. cummings is pretty good. It worked for Michael Caine in Hannah and Her Sisters. But then, Pablo Neruda worked for that guy in Il Postino.

Oh yes.

Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Escribir, por ejemplo: ‘La noche está estrellada,
y tiritan, azules, los astros, a lo lejos’.
Write, for example, ‘The night is shattered
and the blue stars shiver in the distance’.

And another vote for E.E. Cummings. Try it may not always be so and somewhere i have never travelled.

Also, Yehuda Amichai. Try Tourists.

The first gift Stonebow ever gave me was a book of poetry and letters by Ranier Maria Rilke. He wrote a beautiful inscription inside the cover, which I won’t share due to it’s personal nature, but you might think of giving the gift of a book of poetry, as well, with your own personal message inside to accompany it.

And in passing, I’ll share Love Song by Rilke

I really enjoyed Good Poems, edited by Garrison Keillor. There were lots of poems in there I hadn’t read before (mostly modern stuff) and lots of them were really good.

Second. I found a poem in the first or second of Keillor’s books (can’t remember which) that I’m going to have someone read at our wedding.

Rilke is great, so is Cummings.

Thanks for the help all, I especially like FaerieBeth suggestion, I think I may do that as a present as well.

Good instincts. You can’t go wrong with Rilke. It’s the side-one-of-Led-Zeppelin-4 of poetry.

Ah. Think of it like a meal. Start off gently with a little Robert Herrick, innocent, but full of repressed desire


Then a little foreplay, perhaps John Donne, “To his Mistris Going to Bed”

Then something a little more erotic, perhaps e e cummings,

And then perhaps John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, “A Ramble in St James Park”, neither innocent nor repressed.

To finish, well, depends on how you feel. If it’s love then perhaps Mary Oliver’s “At Blackwater Pond”


Good luck.

Ted Hughes, Life and Songs of the Crow.

Oops, maybe not.

Well, it kind of depends on your girl.

For some academic types, that old-style Marvell and Shwakespeare might do it. I think most modern girls would be wowed by a bit more, um, modern and viutal language. The problem with modern poets is that they don’t have a reputation set in stone yet, so you have to know their work to know how it would feel.

The single most romantic “modern” poem I can recall is this, by Ezra Pound:

The River-Merchant’s Wife: a Letter.

For a realistic (read:cynical) view of modern love, where the poet’s cynicism duels with his desire, try Kenneth Fearing’s

Love, 20 cents the first quarter-mile.

Poetry can work very well to set the mood without being expressly about romantic love. Poetry that has good sound when read aloud can be very moving, and quicken the pulse and focus interest. Sensual poetry (“sensual” in the sense of being alive to sensation) with arresting images works very well to open us up to possibilities and moods.

In general term, my personal favorite modern poet is Sharon Olds.

Although she has some graphic sexual poems, more of her work is very direct, honest, and with a sharp twist at the end – she “finishes well”.

Cambridge Elegy is one of her love poems, albeit to a lost love.

Also, although I can’t find them on the Web, The Signal, The Race, and Gerbil Funeral are very moving, and there are surprises throughout her work. Don’t be put off by her early anger against her parents – although it dominstes her ealry books, she does other topics, and eventually comes to terms. If you’re interested, dig around for her books, they’re currently in print.

For pure awareness of the senses, Elizabeth Bishop’s The Fish is hard to beat.