General Question

marissa's avatar

Do you have a favorite poem(s)? If so, please share with us.

Asked by marissa (2675points) August 7th, 2008

If you happen to be a poet yourself, please feel free to share your own poetry also. I’d love to read it!

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

35 Answers

strawberryxcupcake's avatar

i have a short one but its german, its not really a poem, but i love it:

du willst mein herz,
dann gib mir pinsel, farbe
und papier
ich male es dir.

a try to translate it in english:

you want my heart,
than give me brush, colors
and paper,
i draw it for you.

i think thats correct…or better i hope, i really love it ^.^

kristianbrodie's avatar

This one’s from Simon Armitage:

I am very bothered when I think
of the bad things I have done in my life.
Not least that time in the chemistry lab
when I held a pair of scissors by the blades
and played the handles
in the naked lilac flame of the Bunsen burner;
then called your name, and handed them over.

O the unrivalled stench of branded skin
as you slipped your thumb and middle finger in,
then couldn’t shake off the two burning rings. Marked,
the doctor said, for eternity.

Don’t believe me, please, if I say
that was just my butterfingered way, at thirteen,
of asking you if you would marry me.

It’s from a collection called ‘Book of Matches’ – the title is taken from an English parlour game, where you’d strike a match and try to tell the story of your life before the flame burns your fingers. The poems in the collection are all short like this, and meant to be taken as snippets of people’s life stories. This one’s my favourite.

marissa's avatar

strawberry – thanks for translating (unless your just pulling my leg and just completely insulted me in German ;0) )
kristian – that is great! I had never heard of the book or the game. I am definitely intrigued now and will have to check into it.

marissa's avatar

Whoops should be ‘you’re pulling’ not ‘your pulling’

strawberryxcupcake's avatar

why i should do that?>.< that would be stupid…O.O
kristian thats a great poem ^^

marissa's avatar

Just kidding strawberry.

marissa's avatar

Hey strawberry, I just saw your profile and see that you are from germany and that you say your english isn’t very good, so I’m sorry if my humor was misunderstood. You do a great job with english! Thank you for sharing the poem!

strawberryxcupcake's avatar

hehe thats no problem x3 i do my best that you all understand what i write…

shrubbery's avatar

I love the poetry of William Blake (not to mention his art!). My favourite of his is titled Auguries of Innocence and is far too long to type here, but I shall include and excerpt that you may recognise:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wildflower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

And another Blake though this one is shorter, but has no name:

Love to faults is always blind,
Always is to joy inclin’d,
Lawless wing’d & unconfin’d,
And breaks all chains from every mind.

Deceit to secrecy confin’d,
Lawful, cautious, & refin’d;
To everything but interest blind,
And forges fetters for the mind.

I also love Michael Leunig‘s poetry and cartoons.

Let it go. Let it out.
Let it all unravel.
Let it free and it can be
A path on which to travel.

And one from Lao-Tzu:

A tree that can fill the span of a mans’ arms
grows from a downy tip;
A terrace nine stories high
rises from hodfuls of earth;
A journey of a thousand miles
starts from beneath one’s feet.

marissa's avatar

shrubbery, wonderful selections! thank you!

shrubbery's avatar

You’re welcome, great question :) looking forward to hearing from the other Flutherers

MacBean's avatar

Alone by E.A. Poe

From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then- in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life- was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.

flameboi's avatar

Táctica y estrategia
Mario Benedetti

Mi táctica es
aprender como sos
quererte como sos.

Mi táctica es
y escucharte
construir con palabras
un puente indestructible.

Mi táctica es
quedarme en tu recuerdo
no sé cómo ni sé
con qué pretexto
pero quedarme en vos.

Mi táctica es
ser franco
y saber que sos franca
y que no nos vendamos
para que entre los dos

no haya telón
ni abismos.

Mi estrategia es
en cambio
más profunda y más

Mi estrategia es
que un día cualquiera
no sé cómo ni sé
con qué pretexto
por fin me necesites.

So in English should be something like this

My tactic is
Looking at you
Learn how you are
Love you as you are

My tactic is
Speak to you
And listen
And built with your words
An unbreakable bridge

My tactic is
Stay in your memoir
Neither know how nor
An excuse
But stay in you

My tactic is
Being frank
And know that you are so
To not sell each other
So between you and I

There will be no screen
or abyss

My strategy is
Au contraire
And more simple

My strategy is
That any given day
Neither know how nor
An excuse
You will finally need me

ljs22's avatar

I have two favorites. The first is When You Are Old by WB Yeats:

WHEN you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim Soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

My second favorite, entitled The Continuous Life, is by Mark Strand and can be found inscribed on a bench in the Hudson River Park in NYC:

What of the neighborhood homes awash
In a silver light, of children hunched in the bushes,
Watching the grown-ups for signs of surrender,
Signs that the irregular pleasures of moving
From day to day, of being adrift on the swell of duty,
Have run their course? O parents, confess
To your little ones the night is a long way off
And your taste for the mundane grows; tell them
Your worship of household chores has barely begun;
Describe the beauty of shovels and rakes, brooms and mops;
Say there will always be cooking and cleaning to do,
That one thing leads to another, which leads to another;
Explain that you live between two great darks, the first
With an ending, the second without one, that the luckiest
Thing is having been born, that you live in a blur
Of hours and days, months and years, and believe
It has meaning, despite the occasional fear
You are slipping away with nothing completed, nothing
To prove you existed. Tell the children to come inside,
That your search goes on for something you lost—a name,
A family album that fell from its own small matter
Into another, a piece of the dark that might have been yours,
You don’t really know. Say that each of you tries
To keep busy, learning to lean down close and hear
The careless breathing of earth and feel its available
Languor come over you, wave after wave, sending
Small tremors of love through your brief,
Undeniable selves, into your days, and beyond.

Knotmyday's avatar

My all-time favorite is William Wordsworth’s _…Tintern Abbey…. Too long to post.

Also anything by Ogden Nash.

gailcalled's avatar

lis22: The Yeats’ is beautiful and one of my favorites, also. He borrowed generously from Pierre Ronsard;

Quand vous serez bien vieille, au soir, à la chandelle,
Assise auprès du feu, dévidant et filant,
Direz, chantant mes vers, en vous émerveillant :
Ronsard me célébrait du temps que j’étais belle.

Lors, vous n’aurez servante oyant telle nouvelle,
Déjà sous le labeur à demi sommeillant,
Qui au bruit de mon nom ne s’aille réveillant,
Bénissant votre nom de louange immortelle.

Je serai sous la terre et fantôme sans os :
Par les ombres myrteux je prendrai mon repos :
Vous serez au foyer une vieille accroupie,

Regrettant mon amour et votre fier dédain.
Vivez, si m’en croyez, n’attendez à demain :
Cueillez dès aujourd’hui les roses de la vie.

— Sonnets pour Hélène, 1587

gailcalled's avatar

And another 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 on my dreams.

W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)
“He Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven”

tinyfaery's avatar

Two of my faves:

Yeats’ The Two Trees
Poe’s Annabel Lee

Summer's avatar

I remember this one from elementary school when I had to memorize it and recite it in front of the class. It’s still one of my favorites to tell my kids.

by Shel Silverstein

“I cannot go to school today,”
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
“I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,
I’m going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I’ve counted sixteen chicken pox
And there’s one more—that’s seventeen,
And don’t you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut—my eyes are blue—
It might be instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I’m sure that my left leg is broke—
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button’s caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle’s sprained,
My ‘pendix pains each time it rains.
My nose is cold, my toes are numb.
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow’s bent, my spine ain’t straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There is a hole inside my ear.
I have a hangnail, and my heart is—what?
What’s that? What’s that you say?
You say today is. . .Saturday?
G’bye, I’m going out to play!”

molly's avatar

A Free 25 page Booklet by Charles Bukowski! i can’t find a link unfortunately OR my copy of Mockingbird Wish Me Luck, but when i do i will type it out! :)

lapilofu's avatar

My all-time favorite poem is E.E. Cummings “Since Feeling is First”

I’m also rather fond of John Donne’s “The Expiration” in which he likens parting ways with a lover to murdering and dying. And his poem “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning”

And to throw in a couple contemporary poets, I rather like Dina Ben Lev’s “Driving” and Jeffrey McDaniel’s “The Benjamin Franklin of Monogamy”

I’m not going to paste these in here, because they’re rather long collected together, but I posted them here (along with a few others of my favorites). Also, I kinda like this poem I wrote. Maybe you do to.

molly's avatar

LAPILOFU THANK YOU! i totally forgot about Since Feeling is First, which is also one of my all-time favorites.

sdeutsch's avatar

@Summer: When I read this question, Sick was the first poem that popped into my head! Thanks for saving me the trouble of finding it again… =)

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost is one of my other favorites – here it is:

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Bri_L's avatar

it may be cliche, but The Raven By Poe. I love it.

Might I add, there was a respectable recital of it by James Earl Jones and Homer Simpson on The Simpson’s here:

The Raven

by Edgar Allan Poe
(published 1845)

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
”‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door-
Only this, and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;- vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow- sorrow for the lost Lenore-
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me- filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
”‘Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door-
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;-
This it is, and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”- here I opened wide the door;-
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”-
Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice:
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore-
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;-
‘Tis the wind and nothing more!”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door-
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door-
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore-
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning- little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door-
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as “Nevermore.”

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered- not a feather then he fluttered-
Till I scarcely more than muttered, “Other friends have flown before-
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.”
Then the bird said, “Nevermore.”

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore-
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of ‘Never- nevermore’.”

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore-
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee- by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite- respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil! –
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted-
On this home by Horror haunted- tell me truly, I implore-
Is there- is there balm in Gilead?- tell me- tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us- by that God we both adore-
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend,” I shrieked, upstarting-
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!- quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted- nevermore!

QUEER's avatar

Anthem for a Doomed Youth

What passing-bells for those who die as cattle?
-Only the monsterous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

by Wilfred Owen

Unit134679's avatar

Edgar Allen Poe’s 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.

kawaii_ninja's avatar

Ooh, it would have to be ‘Touch’ by Hugh Lewin, and it’s written from prison notes. (It’s second only to ‘The Jabberwocky’ by Lewis Caroll, but that’s more of a famous poem, so I picked my second ^^) :

When I get out
I’m going to as someone
to touch me
very gently please
and slowly,
touch me
I want
to learn again
how life feels.

I’ve not been touched
for seven years
for seven years
I’ve been untouched
out of touch
and I’ve learnt
to know now
the meaning of

Untouched – not quite
I can count the things
that have touched me.

One: Fists
At the beginning
fierce mad fists
beating beating
till I remember
Don’t touch me
please don’t touch me.

Two: Paws
The first four years of paws
every day
patting paws
– arms up, shoes off
legs apart -
prodding paws, systematic
heavy, indifferent
probing away
all privacy.

I don’t wan’t fists and paws
I want
to be touched
and to touch,
I want to feel alive
I want to say
when I get out

Here I am
please touch me.

(And here’s a random Aztec poem that I love also to finish it off =])
Otomi Poem

The river goes by, goes by
and never stops.
The wind goes by, goes by
and never stops.

Life goes by
and never comes back.

crisedwards's avatar

Anything by Li-Young Lee

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@flameboi: That’s a beautiful poem. RIP Mario Benedetti. May 20, 2009.

gailcalled's avatar

@Earthgirl: I love Wendell Berry (Note spelling of his last name.)

Earthgirl's avatar

gailcalled-oops ! I hate mispelling things! I stand corrected

gailcalled's avatar

@Here is another Berry poem that I have loved for years. (I have a pond that the blue heron visits regularly.)


When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

avalanche777's avatar


first time my father overheard me listening to
this bit of music he asked me,
“what is it?”
“it’s called Love For Three Oranges,”
I informed him.
“boy,” he said, “that’s getting it
he meant sex.
listening to it
I always imagined three oranges
sitting there,
you know how orange they can
so mightily orange.
maybe Prokofiev had meant
what my father
if so, I preferred it the
other way
the most horrible thing
I could think of
was part of me being
what ejaculated out of the
end of his
stupid penis.
I will never forgive him
for that,
his trick that I am stuck
I find no nobility in
I say kill the Father
before he makes more
such as

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