Social Question

Mom2BDec2010's avatar

What is the greatest poem you've ever heard?

Asked by Mom2BDec2010 (2666 points ) September 13th, 2010

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

25 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I have many that I like, especially by Pushkin in Russian…thinking if people mention Frost’s poem about the intersection at the road/road not taken, I’ll poke myself in the eye with a fork.

iamthemob's avatar

This Is Just To Say
by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Austinlad's avatar

Anything by Robert Frost.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Greatest? I don’t know about that.My favorite though is this
Annabel Lee
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 the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

Edgar Allan Poe

muppetish's avatar

1. I heard a Fly buzz—when I died by Emily Dickinson
2. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

These are the two poets whose writing I admire most. Though I’ve room for many, many others (especially Bukowski and Cummings.)

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I don’t know if you were intentionally punning (fork in the road) but you have all my lurve for your comment.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@muppetish I was, :) – I don’t get why anyone likes that poem.

iamthemob's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir, @muppetish I hate Robert Frost (no offense meant, @Austinlad) and won the English award at my high school. What did I get? The complete works of Robert Frost

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Outwitted by Edwin Markham

He drew a circle that shut me out—
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!

TexasDude's avatar

Jehova Buried, Satan Dead by ee cummings.

Jehovah buried,Satan dead,
do fearers worship Much and Quick;
badness not being felt as bad,
itself thinks goodness what is meek;
obey says toc,submit says tic,
Eternity’s a Five Year Plan:
if Joy with Pain shall hand in hock
who dares to call himself a man?

go dreamless knaves on Shadows fed,
your Harry’s Tom,your Tom is Dick;
while Gadgets murder squack and add,
the cult of Same is all the chic;
by instruments,both span and spic,
are justly measured Spic and Span:
to kiss the mike if Jew turn kike
who dares to call himself a man?

loudly for Truth have liars pled,click;
where Boobs are holy,poets mad,
illustrious punks of Progress shriek;
when Souls are outlawed,Hearts are sick,
Hearts being sick,Minds nothing can:
if Hate’s a game and Love’s a fuck
who dares to call himself a man?

King Christ,this world is all aleak;
and lifepreservers there are none:
and waves which only He may walk
Who dares to call Himself a man.

———————————

And though it isn’t technically poetry (it’s a song), I love In a Sweater Poorly Knit by mewithoutYou.

In a sweater poorly knit, and an unsuspecting smile
Little Moses drifts downstream in the Nile
A fumbling reply—an awkward, rigid laugh
I’m carried helpless by my floating basket raft

Your flavor in my mind swings back and forth between sweeter than any wine, and bitter as mustard greens
Light and dark as honeydew and pumpernickle bread

The trap I set for you seems to have caught my leg instead

As you plow some other field and try and forget my name, see what harvest yields, and, supposing I’d do the same
I planted rows of peas, but by the first week of july—they should have come up to my knees but they were maybe ankle high

Take the fingers from your flute to weave your colored yarns, and boil down your fruit to preserves in mason jars

But now books are overdue and the goats are underfed… the trap I set for you seems to have caught my leg instead

You’re a door-without-a-key, a field-without-a-fence
You made a holy fool of me, and I’ve thanked you ever since
If she comes circling back, we’ll end where we’d begun
Like two pennies on the train track the train crushed into one

Or if I’m a crown without a king, if I’m a broken, open seed
If I come without a thing, I come with all I need
No boat out in the blue, no place to rest your head
The trap I set for you seems to have caught my leg instead

—————
damn those are some intensely meaningful lyrics.

KatawaGrey's avatar

I have a few.

The Bagpipe Who Didn’t Say No by Shel Silverstein

The Telephone by Robert Frost

Love Is not All by Edna St. Vincent Millay

My Candle Burns at both Ends by Edna St. Vincent Millay You may recognize this one from my profile.

And drum roll please my absolute favorite poem of all time

Theme for English B by Langston Hughes, my absolute favorite poet of all time.

I am so excited, we’re having a whole unit on him in my Adfrican American Lit class!

Edit to add: Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes brings tears to my eyes every time I read it.

weeveeship's avatar

I have two favorite poems.

Adventures of a Frisbee by Shel Silverstein

The Frisbee, he got tired of sailing
To and fro and to;
And thought about the other things
That he might like to do.
So the next time that they threw him,
He turned there in the sky,
And sailed away to try and find
Some new things he could try.
He tried to be an eyeglass,
But no one could see through him.
He tried to be a UFO,
But everyone knew him.
He tried to be a dinner plate,
But he got cracked and quit.
He tried to be a pizza,
But got tossed and baked and bit.
He tried to be a hubcap,
But the cars all moved too quick.
He tried to be a record,
But the spinnin’ made him sick.
He tried to be a quarter,
But he was too big to spend.
So he rolled home, quite glad to be
A Frisbee once again.

It is very deep and philosophical. Being someone who has tried to fit in with the “cool crowd” I can definitely relate to this poem.

I also like Silverstein’s other works. The Giving Tree is a great look at a parent’s love for a child. The Missing Piece is an excellent and intriguing look at perfection. I really enjoyed his poems as a kid and I still like to read his poems. They really make me think philosophically about life.

Another poem that I really like is Harlem, a poem by Langston Hughes that was featured in the play “A Raisin in the Sun.”

A Raisin in the Sun by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

I really like the vivid imagery of the poem. In fact, I once did a dramatic presentation of this in a school activity. Like “Adventures of a Frisbee” by Shel Silverstein, this poem is also very philosophical.

Other poets I like include Edgar Allan Poe (the Raven is pretty good), Robert Frost and William Shakespeare.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@weeveeship: Do you realize that I picked four poets, and you picked five, and between us, we picked three of the same? :)

Seaofclouds's avatar

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot (this has been my favorite poem for years… it’s long)

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question…
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”

Let us go and make our visit.
In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes,
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
(They will say: ‘How his hair is growing thin!”)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? ...

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

* * *

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep… tired… or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it towards some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all;
That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old… I grow old…
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

filmfann's avatar

Ulysses by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match’d with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.

I cannot rest from travel:
I will drink Life to the lees:
all times I have enjoy’d Greatly,
have suffer’d greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Thro’ scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vexed the dim sea: I am become a name;

For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour’d of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers;
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.

I am part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untravell’d world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!
As tho’ to breath were life.
Life piled on life
Were all to little,
and of one to me
Little remains:

but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle-
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro’ soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil’d, and wrought, and thought with me-
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads- you and I are old;
Old age had yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.

The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in the old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal-temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

absalom's avatar

What kind of poem?

I’m tempted to say ‘In a station of the metro’, or second @iamthemob‘s candidate, but these poems don’t read so well out loud.

‘Leaves of Grass’ is certainly the greatest poem/s I know, but that poem is not so much heard as it is felt.

This embodies all poetry.

But this sounds better than all of them (unless you listen to the provided audio, which sounds bad).

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

With complete disregard, towards all ‘the greats’.
I share with thee some words,
from a mind of demented states.
Fun & simple, with touches of grim.
Here be the works of a fellow,
last name Burton – first name Tim.

.

=Stick Boy and Match Girl in Love=

Stick Boy liked Match Girl,
he liked her a lot.
He liked her cute figure,
he thought she was hot.

But could a flame ever burn
for a match and a stick?
It did quite literally;
he burned up pretty quick.

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

I Knew A Woman

I knew a woman, lovely in her bones,
When small birds sighed, she would sigh back at them;
Ah, when she moved, she moved more ways than one:
The shapes a bright container can contain!
Of her choice virtues only gods should speak,
Or English poets who grew up on Greek
(I’d have them sing in chorus, cheek to cheek.)

How well her wishes went! She stroked my chin,
She taught me Turn, and Counter-turn, and stand;
She taught me Touch, that undulant white skin:
I nibbled meekly from her proffered hand;
She was the sickle; I, poor I, the rake,
Coming behind her for her pretty sake
(But what prodigious mowing did we make.)

Love likes a gander, and adores a goose:
Her full lips pursed, the errant note to seize;
She played it quick, she played it light and loose;
My eyes, they dazzled at her flowing knees;
Her several parts could keep a pure repose,
Or one hip quiver with a mobile nose
(She moved in circles, and those circles moved.)

Let seed be grass, and grass turn into hay:
I’m martyr to a motion not my own;
What’s freedom for? To know eternity.
I swear she cast a shadow white as stone.
But who would count eternity in days?
These old bones live to learn her wanton ways:
(I measure time by how a body sways.)

- Theodore Roethke

muppetish's avatar

@absalom That is exactly how I feel about “Song of Myself” in particular – it has to be felt, not read or heard. I need to go out and purchase a portable copy and keep it in my pocket. I’ve been quoting passages often lately.

iammia's avatar

Remember
by Christina Rosetti

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann’d:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

Was a poem given to me after the death of my brother many years ago…..it helped me a lot :)

JilltheTooth's avatar

I have too many to count, but here’s one not yet mentioned; a tribute to the folly of arrogance.

Ozymandias Percy Bysshe Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away”.

TheMadShatter's avatar

Invictus by William Ernest Henley

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.

harple's avatar

This is my absolute favourite:

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.

And I also rather like Yeats’:

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread upon my dreams.

Rhodentette's avatar

I know of many, many great poems but this is my favourite:

Sonnet 116
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no, it is an ever-fixèd mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
-Shakespeare

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther