To celebrate April being the National Poetry month, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite poets and the poems they wrote that I enjoy most. I learned so much from writing this post, I included a few interesting tidbits of trivia about some famous poets. I hope you not only enjoy the list, but learn something new, too.
TOP TEN FAVORITE POETS AND POEMS
By Debby Lee
10. EMILY DICKINSON: Emily Dickinson wrote more than 1,700 poems although fewer than a dozen were ever published before her death. Many of her works contain Gospel themes, and garden and flower themes. With a record of penning that much poetry she wins a slot on my list of favorite poets.
9. ROBERT FROST: A Late Walk, and A Prayer in Spring. If you even slightly know me, you’ll know how much I love nature and outdoor themes, especially if lots of sunshine is involved. Okay, go ahead and roll your eyes, but I find sunshine, flowers, green grassy fields and cute little birds wonderfully romantic. And of course love was a strong theme in these and many of Mr. Frost’s other poems.
8. JOHN KEATS: He wrote a deep and poignant sonnet titled “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer” which I found stirring. A poem titled A Thing of Beauty, and several Odes are other great works by this artist. One of Mr. Keats most famous poems is a sonnet titled Bright Star. Rumored to have been written for the woman he loved, Fanny Brawne, it describes a longing for eternal and constant love. A movie was made of John life with Fanny, aptly titled, Bright Star. Tragically, John Keats died of tuberculosis at the age of 25.
7. D.H. LAWRENCE: Some of my favorites by this man include, In a Boat and Irony. In a Boat is a piece that rhymes but the lines that rhyme aren’t so predictable. I found this take on poetry rather refreshing. Irony is a poem I loved because it was flowery and yet brimming with passion. Let’s not forget another poem by Mr. Lawrence, as quoted by Viggo Mortensen in G.I. Jane, “I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself, a bird will fall frozen dead from a bough, without ever having felt sorry for itself.”
6. SHEL SILVERSTEIN: In 1981 Mr. Silverstein published a children’s poetry book titled A Light in the Attic, but long before this book hit store shelves, another famous title of his had been published. The Giving Tree, published in 1965 is one of my favorite children’s books. I read it to my kids countless times. With all the books I acquired as a kid, I often wonder how this one escaped my own little collection. But this man’s talent isn’t just limited to children’s work, he wrote songs as well, some of which were sung by famous musicians like Loretta Lynn, One’s on the Way, and Johnny Cash, A Boy Named Sue.
5. ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING: Sonnets of the Portuguese, “How do I love thee, let me count the ways.” I’ll never forget the first time I heard this poem. Quoted by Nina Courtland on the soap opera, All My Children, it made the hair on the back of my neck tingle. All I could say was “Wow!” It really had a powerful effect on me. I can still hear the words in my head to this day.
4. JULIA WARD HOWE: Ms. Howe was a suffragette and a staunch abolitionist. She wrote the lyrics to the Battle Hymn of the Republic during the Civil War and it was first published in 1862. It’s said that some of Martin Luther King’s speeches were drawn from this song. This inspiring piece has indeed stood the test of time, and still popular to this day due to its bold and powerful lyrics.
3. SHAKESPEARE: The 116th Sonnet, “Love is not love which alters when its alteration finds, nor bends with the remover to remove. O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken.” This is an incredibly romantic piece of poetry, I think, for the honest portrait of love it paints. I’m in awe of Shakespeare and how he captured all the grittiness, pain, and strength that true love often brings. It’s been referred to, and quoted numerous times throughout history. My favorite reference to it is in the movie “Sense and Sensibility.”
2. FANNY J. CROSY: This incredible woman, who had been blinded since infancy, wrote more than 1,000 poems. She went on to publish four books of poetry and two autobiographies. She is perhaps most famous for the hymn’s she wrote, specifically Blessed Assurance, To God be the Glory, and Jesus is Tenderly Calling You Home. She was also a skilled piano, harp, guitar, and organ player. To have been a blind woman in the 1800’s and still have accomplished feats of this magnitude, she has earned some well-deserved respect, and the number two spot on my list.
1. MAYA ANGELOU: This lady is my favorite poet for several reasons. I love her style of poetry, how she isn’t afraid to delve into social issues and speak her mind about them. And let’s not forget the terribly difficult childhood she rose from. Sexually assaulted at the age of eight, she was mute for more than four years after the attack. There were many dark years in this woman’s life but she did manage to become the first black female street car conductor in San Francisco.
Maya later went on to write the acclaimed best-seller, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. A few of her famous poems and some of my favorites include Africa, and A Brave and Startling Truth. Published in 1995, here are a few lines from that poem. “It is possible and imperative that we learn a brave and startling truth, when we come to it, to the day of peace making, when we release our fingers from fists of hostility and allow the pure air to cool our palms,” I can’t help but find this piece motivating and thought provoking. Ms. Angelou’s talent isn’t just limited to the written word, she also gave a powerful performance as Kunta Kinte’s grandmother in the epic saga, Roots. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.
This woman is an inspiration to me. I respect and admire her tremendously.
Here are a few facts you might find interesting. One of Louisa May Alcott’s writing mentor’s was none other than famed poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson. In October, 2012, some papers were found in an old trunk in Denmark. It was a story called The Tallow Candle and turned out to be the first fairy tale ever penned by Hans Christian Andersen. The eccentric poet, Walt Whitman served as a Union Army nurse during the Civil War.
Well, there you have it. Probably one of the longest posts I’ve ever written for my blog, I know it took me longer to write it than any of my other posts. I hope you enjoyed it. Are any of your favorites on the list? If not who are they, and why are they your favorites?