Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

#9: Poems to Know and Grow On

It’s been too long since I paid attention to my Musings of a Voracious Reader list.  Tidying up my files I discovered entry #9: Poems to Know and Grow On and it seems quite appropriate as a post-Valentine’s Day post, since poetry is the food of love (right next to chocolate).

As I teach poetry, especially as I prepare my AP students for their exams in May, I am reading more and more poets and poetry.  This is a good thing.  In fact, I am now taking on what I have deemed as the “Emily Project” which is discovering Emily Dickinson.  Understanding her would be another project in itself.

As I teach, read, and study poems I have gathered a few along the way.  I dearly wish I had a better knack for memorization because I would like to pull out a poem for any occasion and dazzle, delight, and demonstrate the power of poetry to any willing listener. I love it when that moment arrives in a movie when one character starts a poem and another finishes it.  Remember Willoughby and Marianne from Sense and Sensibility? *sigh*

This is simply a sprinkling of poems I have deemed worth knowing and to grow on:

1. My First Memory (of Librarians) by Nikki Giovanni–a Book Booster’s banner poem of delight

2. Harlem (A Dream Deferred) by Langston Hughes–his imagery is enviable

3.Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins–enjoy poetry, don’t tie it to a chair and beat a confession out of it (love this)

4. Hope Is A Thing With Feathers by Emily Dickinson–hope wings its way into our hearts

5. The Road Not Takenby Robert Frost–almost clichéd by its overuse, it’s still a powerful statement about making choices

6. The Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll–delightfully fun for any age

7. This Is Just To Say by William Carlos Williams–after I discovered this was actually a note to his wife I embraced the poem even more

8. The Tyger by William Blake–imagine seeing a tiger for the first time; how can something so exquisitely beautiful be also so incredibly deadly?

9. One Art by Elizabeth Bishop–the more I read Bishop the more I realize what talent she has for capturing life’s moments

10.I Hear America Singing by Walt Whitman–“a sweaty-toothed madmen” claimed Todd from Dead Poets Society, when asked what he thought of Uncle Walt; Whitman is clearly underrated (check out the Poem Flow when you hit the link or better yet check out this YouTube)

11. Sonnet 130 by William Shakespeare–the Bard employs his wit whilst he poketh funneth at the syrupy nature of sonnets

12. We Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks–no matter the era, youth’s self-destruction prevails

13. Fog by Carl Sandburg–its simplicity speaks volumes

14. The Daffodils by William Wordsworth–my heart gladdens of spring’s promise as the daffodils lift their golden heads above winter’s chilly grasp

And there are  fourteen poems, a drop of verses in the deep well of that which stirs the soul, as a nod to Valentine’s Day and the tradition of sweet rhymes, chocolate, and roses.

One last poem to know and grow on, not necessarily my favorite, but definitely memorable.  True love is memorable, as Poe so deftly renders in this tribute to his lost love. This one usually makes my ninth grade students pause, which is one reason I refer to it.

Annabel Lee

by Edgar Allan Poe
It was many and many a year ago,
   In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
   By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
   Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
   In this kingdom by the sea:
But we loved with a love that was more than love--
   I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
   Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
   In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
   My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
   And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
   In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
   Went envying her and me--
Yes!--that was the reason (as all men know,
   In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
   Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
   Of those who were older than we--
   Of many far wiser than we--
And neither the angels in heaven above,
   Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee:

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling--my darling--my life and my bride,
   In her sepulchre there by the sea,
   In her tomb by the sounding sea.

Virginia Poe watercolor painted after her deat...

Virginia Poe watercolor painted after her death in 1847. From Category:Edgar Allan Poe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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3 thoughts on “#9: Poems to Know and Grow On

  1. I love the Jabberwocky, The Road Not Taken, and Tyger, Tyger. It’s interesting how with some poems, it was love at first sight. Some other poems had to grow on me first.

  2. Pingback: OKIGBO – MYTHMAKER & TOWNCRIER AT HEAVEN’S GATE by Hyginus Ekwuazi « Su'eddie in Life n Literature

  3. Pingback: American Rhyme and Reason | cricketmuse

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