By Jim Harrison. Perhaps the World Ends Here. By Joy Harjo. The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live. Turning Forty. By Kevin Griffith. The Lake in Central Park. By Jay Wright. White Spine. By Henri Cole. The Gift. By Li-Young Lee. Movement Song. By Audre Lorde. I have studied the tight curls on the back of your neck. By Jacqueline Woodson. The Elephant. This also fits in with the recurring war theme since enlisting is a similarly risky proposition.
Arabic poetry is the best in history, it has far more words for description and it has deep meanings. It was my first time reading the poem and I thought it meant the mournfully high number of people who say such things. I like it. We may be reading too much into it. Thank you! This was my first thought too. I remember my high school teacher interpreting it in a similar way.
Simple and succinct. Well chosen. I love this series of the ten best. So brilliantly synchronous!
In this data-rich period of the last years, we have seen myriads of lists composed, the top 10 vehicles of the last fifty years, the top 40 songs of the week, the top contributers to humanity of the last years, the richest people in the World this year, and so forth. It is a way for us in mass society to make sense of all the information that comes our way. Another reason for compiling such lists is that it clarifies our own visions, artistic, scientific, philosophical, etc. However, all lists are at best provisional. They are works in progress.
Things change. The most popular meme this week might not be the most popular meme next week. Our favourite cuisine this season may not be our favourite the next. In fact, we are creatures of change. We thrive on variety. So it should not come as a surprise to anyone that even our own lists will alter over time. Evan Mantyk has done us a great service in posting his list of the 10 Greatest Poems Ever Written, not because he was right after all, who could be right? De gustibus non est disputandum.
As Mr. Mantyk knows, by emphasizing poems of 50 lines or less not his exact requirement, but his example , one must exclude epics, poetic plays, narrative poems, dramatic monologues, didactic verse essays, satires and epistles, etc. One of the paradoxes of making a list of the greatest short poems ever written is in attributing greatness to the smaller works, when the very meaning of greatness implies a largeness of expanse, of vision, etc.
Even he, I suspect, will change his list over time. Here is his list. Daffodils William Wordsworth 4. On His Blindness John Milton 6.
The Tyger William Blake 7. Ode on a Grecian Urn John Keats 8. Ozymandias Percy Bysshe Shelley 9. The New Colossus Emma Lazarus The Road Not Taken Robert Frost What is remarkable about his list is its specificity and his analyses, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. As I read his list, however, I kept thinking, but what about this poem, or that poem? Other Shakespearean sonnets are also in competition with Sonnet Sonnet for me has always had a special place, because in its delivery, Shakespeare even goes so far as to suggest that if true love does not exist, then he never wrote a thing.
It is the Shakespearean sonnet that most moves me, so much so I recited it at the wedding of my college roommate many years ago. This shows one of the pitfalls of poetic placement; various poems may suggest more to us than others because of our own particular circumstances. One more example will suffice. What appeals to me in that sonnet is its unusual vantage point, its precision, the use of particular words, like steep, and its terse landscaping. Death thou shalt die. But for me, the John Donne poem that takes my breath away is A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning, with its extraordinary conceit of love with a mathematical compass.
It is a linguistic tour de force that sweeps me away with its idealism, its learning, and its paradoxically intricate simplicity. For me, nothing like it in English poetry reaches such a refined, intellectual brilliance; and for a long time, it has seemed a worthy paradigm to emulate in my poetry. I agree with Reid McGrath that it would be difficult to bench any of the all-stars Mr. Edwards and the Spider, etc.
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And Ezra Pound and T. O Captain! O the bleeding drops of red, Where on the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead. This arm beneath your head! But I with mournful tread, Walk the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead. Critics such as Harold Bloom have suggested the Tyger is actually a gentle, playful creature.
It is seen in his carvings as a smiling, toy-like beast. There was an error in Romantic literature that Satan was the hero of Paradise Lost but contemporary analysis suggests Adam is the hero, with Satan as an antihero. Satan became a mythical revolutionary telling God where to stick it for His oppressions.
Symmetry implies that order is addressed, a fearful order because it is misunderstood or new to the seer. The fact that Blake uses the word immortal in reference to eye and hand makes the poem extra enchanting— because he is calling poetry an immortal art that would not be what it is without a touch of the forbidden and the divine frenzy. The list was great, like all lists go by, interesting …… But once the shopping done, To the bin of time it goes.
For another one is on its way, for needs are different every day.
So forget it. Learn to shop from your heart. Where do I start? While known more in America as a storyteller for children, he is best known in Ireland as a poet…. I hear in the darkness Their slipping and breathing. You can spend at the fair But your face you must turn To your crops and your care. And soldiers—red soldiers! The poems are beautiful, but the title is wrong.
But, anyway, I love your list. Out of the night that covers me, Black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance My head is bloody, but unbowed. Beyond this place of wrath and tears Looms but the Horror of the shade, And yet the menace of the years Finds and shall find me unafraid. It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul. Nothing by Goethe, Rilke, or Schiller? Or are great poems written only by native English speakers? First Letter by M. And as I pull the drapes in my room to the right, The moon engulfs everything with its warm light.
It retrieves from my memory, endless thoughts. I feel the whole lot like in dreams that come in lots. Virgin one you, thousand of wilds glow in your light. How many forests hide shimmer of water in their shade? As on top of the rough sheer size of the seas you drift, Over how many thousands of waves does your light shift? How many blossoming shores, what forts and castles too, Which flooded by your beauty, to yourself you put on view.
Into how many thousands of homes, you gently touch? How many heads full of thought, you quietly watch? You spot a king, who webs the globe with plans for a century, While a poor guy dares not to think about the next day… While a new rank was drawn from the urn of fate for each guy, Your ray and the skill of death, rule them in the same way. To the same chain of passions, both guys are addicted, Be they weak or strong, stupid or smart. Some guy looks in the mirror and his hair he styles. Some other guy seeks the truth in this world, and in these times. From stained old files, thousand small pieces he folds.
Their short-lived names he writes down on the script he holds. And some guy at his office desk carves up the world, and he tallies How much gold, the sea is hauling in its dark ships hulls. And there is the old professor, with his coat faded at the elbows. He searches, and in an endless count, he assesses. And he buttons up his old robe, of cold he freezes, He sinks his neck in his collar, plugs his ears, and he sneezes. Skinny as he is, frail and feeble as he appears, The vast Universe is in his reach, and it nears.
Since at the back of his brow, the past and the future unite. Like Atlas of ancient times, who propped the sky on his shoulder, So, our professor props the space and the eternal time in a number. While over the old scripts, the moon lights with its glow, His thought takes him back billions of years, right now: To the beginning, when a living or nonliving thing there was not, When life and will, lacked for the whole lot, When hidden was nil, though the lot was out of sight, When weighed down with wisdom, the Hidden One relaxed His might.
Was it a deep rift? Was it a sheer fall? Was it a vastness of water?
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Because there was darkness, like a sea without a ray of light, But there was nothing to look at, nor eye to see into the night. The shape of the un-formed did not start yet to work loose And the endless peace rules at ease… But all of a sudden, the first and the only one, a point stirs rather… Look how out of the chaos it forms a mother, and it grows to be the Father. That point of motion, even weaker than a bubble, It has total control over the entire Universe, without any trouble… Since then, the endless night sorts out in galaxies.
Since then, come to light the Sun, the Earth, the Moon and the stars… Since then, up until now, colonies of lost worlds — with tales — Come from grey valleys of chaos on unknown trails. And they spring in swarms that glow from outer space. And by a boundless craving are lured to existence.
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Tiny nations, kings, soldiers and the well read, We come in generations and we think we know everything from A to Z. Like flies that live a day, in a tiny world that is measured by the foot, In that deep space with no end, we spin following the same route. And we quite forget that this entire life is a poised instant, And at the beginning and at the end night is revealed, although is distant. And so, in the on and on night that never ends, We have the instant; we have the ray that still stands… When it will switch off, everything will vanish, like a shadow into the night.
Since the hazy deep space is a dream of nothingness. The Sun that now shines, he sees it dim and red, like veiled in dust, How, like a wound among dark clouds, it goes bust. Everything freezes up. And the altar screen of the world has dimmed altogether its ray Like the autumn leaves, all the stars have gone astray. And all is quiet. All plunges into the night of non-existence.
And in a state of ease, the eternal peace gets going again in this instance. The same as one is in all, all is in one. Ahead of the others, gets the one who can. While others with meek heart stand-alone and sigh, And do not grasp that like the unseen foam they quietly die. Whatever they want or think, what should the blind fate agonize? Shall the whole world accept him? Shall writers cause him to feel at ease? What will the old professor gain out of all of these? Eternal life, they shall say. It is true that all his time, Like ivy on a tree, he clings to an aim.
Forever, in all places they shall pass it on, all the same, By word of mouth, by means of my fame, My writings shall find shelter in a spot of some head. What crossed in front of you? Not much. And he shall stack your work on two lines, in a tiny footnote. On a silly page, he shall put you last, with a dot. You can build a whole way of life.
You can wreck it. Whatever you say, a shovel of dust shall stack over the whole lot. The hand that wanted the sceptre of the Universe, and higher ranks… And with vision to grasp the Cosmos, fits perfect in four planks. And with cold stares, like they are mocking you too, In the best funeral-procession, they shall walk behind you. And a shortie shall speak above everybody, reading your eulogy, Not to praise you… to polish himself in the shade of your celebrity. Look what awaits you.
Oh yes, you shall see… The time yet to come, is even with more impartiality. You were a man like they are… everyone is content. And in literary meetings, each guy with an ironic expression Will widen his or her nose, when about you they talk in session. It has to be said sincerely, With words, they shall praise you dearly. And so, fallen in the hands of anyone, they shall assess your toil. And apart from that, about your life, they shall stick their nose in. They shall look for dirt, faults and for some sin.
All these brings you closer to them… Not the enlightenment That you shed on the world, but the sins, flaws and excitement, And blunders, and weak moments, and guilt from the past, Which, are linked in a fatal way to a hand of dust. As, it opens the star gate to our own dimension in a twinkling, And once the candle is quenched, it releases much inkling.
Many a wilderness, glares in your glow, virgin one you. How many a forest, hide in its shade shimmer of springs, from your view? Over how many thousands of waves, does your glow shift When, over the rough expanse of the seas, your light shall drift? I absolutely love this one! I wish I could say I have achieved the privilege of mastering the worlds greatest poets, but blessed that I can appreciate ones beauty of expression! Can I ask who the poet is who wrote this and where you found it?
Thank you!! Great list. Ozymandias my favorite short-form poem ever. But where is something from Dickinson, the Bard of Amherst? Brilliant poems too numerous to enumerate…. A good list apart from number one by Shakespeare. Number two by Donne is not bad. Perhaps he should have listed off her favorite foods. Or even something about her physical appearance would have been better than nothing.
There really is nothing about her, assuming it is a she. Shakespeare is grossly overrated. Most of his work is unremarkable but gets more attention because when he was writing hardly anyone had written anything.
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If you read their poems you will sea they were great. Many people on the world have ridden them for many years…. Very clever. Persian poems are as great as the sea is expansive. No mention of Invictus? It evokes such raw willpower as to overcome any inner demon. That said, there is a sense, to me anyway, of godlessness to it. These strike me as relatively hollow reflections compared to those on the list. I came across your list only yesterday.
Great choices. By the way, I happen to agree with you regarding Invictus. Your list is so beautiful, inspiring and for me personally extremely therapeutic! Again in my personal opinion ones own view is by far more interesting, pure and appreciated! Thank you for this list! Most importantly it is not right nor wrong and should just simply not literally be appreciated!
Thank you, Kelly! For instance, suppose you feel someone has wronged you, say a politician or perhaps someone close to you, and the actions you take driven by irrational emotion you realize later were silly. If something appears in need of attention and underserved or underutilized, as in the less warn path, then we should naturally feel inclined to help and participate where it is needed. We should naturally be open minded and compassionate to our fellow man, even if they suffer for a sound reason.
The two principles are perhaps contradictory, but I think Frost has experienced them and recognizes that he has them internalized, so the poem is an expression of that contradictory experience and elucidates the sometimes seemingly contradictory nature of life itself. If there are layers of consciousness and layers of reality then the truth can perhaps be more closely approached. Principle 2 applies to ordinary human interactions at the most surface level and principle 1 demonstrates a larger scale principle that we can reflect upon in a more spiritual or philosophical state of mind but cannot entirely attain when confined to a human body.
An individuals choices will make a difference in their own life but will have no effect whatsoever on society as a whole in most cases. So he makes it seem as if taking the path less traveled is what made the difference, when really, the were either the same, or there would have been no way to differentiate to begin with. Thanks Evan. I do agree with those principles 1 borne out many times but the last line still flummoxes me a bit.
Great thought. I love that poem also. The story that goes with it makes it all the more moving. Thank you for taking the time to compile this list. I was inspired to revisit poetry after teaching it to my 3rd grade students. They seem to really enjoy poetry and grasping meaning from it. Thank you again! I suspect that if Wordsworth had compiled a list of his best 10 poems, Daffodils would not have been on it. Thanks for sharing. As you outline it, the sixth reason death is not to be feared is that death is not extinction for John Donne.
But what is the victory he imagines? What does it mean that death will die? Print This Page. See more like this. Download the plug-in tools you need to use our games and tools, or check to see if you've got the latest version. Looking for ways to engage your students in online literacy learning? Find more interactive tools that help them accomplish a variety of goals-from organizing their thoughts to learning about language. In this online tool, elementary students can write poems based on shapes from five different categories: Nature, School, Sports, Celebrations, and Shapes.
Within these categories, 32 different shapes are included. By selecting a shape, students are learning how to focus their writing on a particular topic or theme. In addition, as part of the online tool, students are prompted to brainstorm, write, and revise their poems, thus reinforcing elements of the writing process. Students can save their draft poems to revise later.
See the 5-minute video tutorial Saving Work With the Student Interactives for more information on have to save, e-mail, and open a file in any of the ReadWriteThink Student Interactives. The finished theme poems can also be printed and colored to display in the classroom or at home. Theme Poems: Using the Five Senses. Students write theme poems in a flash using the picture book Flicker Flash by Joan Bransfield Graham and the online, interactive Theme Poems tool.