Here’s my list of 11 essential poems everyone should know—these are talisman poems, crucial revelations in my journey of exploration in the world of poetry.
“I walk down the garden paths,
And all the daffodils
Are blowing, and the bright blue squills.
I walk down the patterned garden paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown....”
I cannot quote a single line from this poem—it’s a whole, a piece of typographical art. Just notice that the title is an anagram of “grasshopper,” and then see the poem itself.
“Wild Nights — Wild Nights!
Were I with thee
Wild Nights should be
“Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love’s day...”
“While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead
I played about the front gate, pulling flowers.
You came by on bamboo stilts, playing horse,
You walked about my seat, playing with blue plums...”
“The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play...”
“What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?...”
“Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim...”
“To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die...”
“A Black, E white, I red, U green, O blue: vowels,
I shall tell, one day, of your mysterious origins...”
“The poet is a faker
Who’s so good at his act
He even fakes the pain
Of pain he feels in fact...”