Art heals all wounds… that’s not the correct expression, but it could be. After March 20, or World Poetry Day, show your appreciation for the art form by expanding the kinds of poems you read. Expose yourself to new authors and concepts to appreciate works from all over time and space. Whether you like the more antiquated forms or a more modern work, artists are waiting to share their creations.
Read on for 21 fantastic poems to read after World Poetry Day!
21. “Burnt Norton” by T.S. Eliot
You can’t leave Eliot off of a list like this. “Burnt Norton” is only one of his works (we’ll excuse his poems that are responsible for the creation of Cats). Still, Burnt Norton perfectly encapsulates anxieties around time and future and— a theme from the early twentieth century that still holds up now. With beautiful imagery and vivid sensory detail, Eliot will have you looking around yourself contemplating “Only through time time is conquered.”
20. “A Lover’s Complaint” by William Shakespeare
Everything from Shakespeare can be considered a classic, but some pieces get left in the shadows. Even after World Poetry Day, let yourself unearth this beloved narrative. Written primarily through a woman’s perspective, you can hear her lament about a love abandoned. Sharpen your obscure Shakespeare skills with this unusual story-telling style poem.
19. “Because I Could Not Stop Death” by Emily Dickinson
Who doesn’t want a little adventure with Death? And by that, I mean the personification of the concept. Dickinson animates this journey here when Death picks up the speaker and takes her on a chariot ride through town. Playing not only with spatial images but also with temporal ones, Dickinson evokes nostalgic warmth alongside the solemness that Death brings. Written beautifully in only a few short stanzas, this surely holds the title as one of Dickenson’s most beloved pieces.
18. “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe
Of course when discussing poetry, you must pay homage to the king of the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe. A master of misery and horror, Poe offers plenty of options for celebrating poetry in a more gothic way. No poem exemplifies his skill quite as well as “The Raven” though. Structured in a narrative account of a man going mad, the narrator encounters a talking raven while grieving a lost love.
“It sounds very pretty and is relatable in a sad way,” Binghamton junior Patricia Ebrahim said. “There is a top story which is interesting in itself, and the deeper meaning which is also fascinating. It’s not so abstract as being indecipherable, but not so obvious as to be boring.”
Worry nevermore, listeners. “The Raven” allows itself to be enjoyed by all listeners. Whether you’re looking for a little more academic study, or just need something dark to lull you to sleep, Poe awaits.
17. “And I Wonder Where You Are” by Tanaya Winder
As a modern day poet, Winder’s works center around community and you can’t help but pour over them all. “And I Wonder Where You Are” centers around being born an Indigenous as a woman, girl and two-spirit. Emphasizing visibility, Winder utilizes imagery of the night sky that truly allures your senses as you read.
16. “Two Loves” by Lord Alfred Douglas
This poem might live most prominently in our minds for its inclusion in Oscar Wilde’s 1895 trial. When trying to prove Wilde and Douglas were having an affair, “Two Loves” was brought into question. Here, they interrogated “the love that dare not speak its name.” Despite the solemn history, “Two Loves” remains a beautiful read to this day.
Invoking the warmth of spring and summer, Douglas brings a personification of Love and Shame to the speaker, leaving the reader in a ruminating stupor. Beautiful descriptions of flowers, nature and the personifications draw you in, but the passion and love will keep you there.
15. “Goblin Market” by Christina Rosetti
Here another narrative poem reigns supreme—and a classic one at that! Written by a Romantic poet, “Goblin Market” tells a very fairy tale-esque story, with a questionable G-rating. Debates surround the sexualities depicted as Lizzie and Laura interact with one another and the nightly Goblins that sell them forbidden fruit. A fantastic tale in itself, there’s also plenty to dig into if you want to get analytical about it. Luring in its creation and remarkable in its elasticity, feel the call of the Goblin Market!
14. “War Widow” by Chris Abani
A Nigerian and American writer, Abani threads emotion seamlessly in all of his works. This one particularly emphasizes the sadness that comes with tragedy and loss but in such a unique perspective. As the title alludes to, Abani chooses to write on those left behind after a war dealing with grief. This subject translates so well into poetry, you just can’t ignore it.
13. “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allen Poe
For this Poe work, we stray away from the horror and more toward love (and sadness, of course). This narrative follows its grieving narrator through its varying rhyme scheme and each new stanza tugging at your heart. In true Poe fashion, the technical skill meets the emotional depth at each level.
“’Annabel Lee’ is such a beautiful poem because of the deep love story that it portrays. While it is also about death and grieving one truly beloved, it is also about loving someone so much that the love is undying,” St. John’s University junior Samantha Haynia said. “The love between Annabel Lee and the narrator was so strong and deep that the narrator believed they were still together, even after she was lost to him. While this poem is a tragedy and heart-wrenching, it is also beautiful and heart-warming.”
Known as the last of Poe’s works, “Annabel Lee” stays in our consciousness and hearts.
12. “After All” by Lang Leav
A beloved writer worldwide, Leav wouldn’t let us down with this poem here. A tragic lament of missing someone now gone, it’s a grief and sorrow we all have felt, in some way or another. Leav utilizes beautifully casual imagery that works to hit us so hard with emotions. If this one fell off your radar, World Poetry Day proves the perfect day to check it out.
11. “She Walks in Beauty” by Lord Byron
“She walks in beauty like the night,” or so we’ve all heard. Good thing the rest of the poem holds up. Known for his extravagance and deviance, Lord Byron’s reputation as a Romantic poet is entertaining no matter how you look into him. Whether you want to dig into a biography or study his works, you can see just how he gained such fame. You can enjoy “She Walks in Beauty” as a classic romantic by yourself, or to send to someone as a message (wink wink).
10. “I Look at the World” by Langston Hughes
The Harlem Renaissance brought so many talented geniuses to the spotlight in order to show their work in all forms— along with music, writing and politics, poets emerged as well. Langston Hughes’s name lives on as only one example and it continues to thrive as a prominent and skilled writer. “I Look at the World” offers a short instance of his powerful choice of words and shows his call to action with “Then let us hurry, comrades, The road to find.”
9. “The Future” by Neil Hilborn
Poetry lends itself to all forms and that includes spoken word! Neil Hilborn perfectly utilizes the medium of performance for his work. A realistic and intrusive look into mental health and navigating the world, Hilborn draws the audience into the story with fantastic humor and presentation.
“I love spoken word poetry because it really gives you insight into the emotions the poet is trying to convey which you may miss in the written form,” New York University junior Sarah Hassan said. “Spoken word allows you to capture all the nuance which the author puts into the piece. For me, poetry is an expression of the human condition, and being able to actually see someone use their body and voice to bring everything to life is an experience unique to spoken word.”
If you want to just sit back and let the art and artist carry you through World Poetry Day, Hilborn’s got you.
8. “Rape Joke” by Patricia Lockwood
This 2013 poem should be read by all audiences, but remains especially important to college students as we leave adolescence. Going over the experience of her childhood trauma, Lockwood relates her memories to the stand-in of her assailant, the rape joke, incriminating both the concept and the man. Lockwood’s incredible ability balances the seriousness of her content with the slight humor her tone carries. Forever topical and never overstated, “Rape Joke” should exist in everyone’s consciousness!
7. “Sun— While the World Sleeps We Travel” by Ahmed M. Badr
This poem by the beloved writer Badr emphasizes memories, land and ancestry as a tribute to a Syrian refugee boy who lost his life. Utilizing dynamic descriptions and solemn memories, it acts as an important message to all its readers. Badr holds “Sun” as one poem in his larger collection, While the World Sleeps We Travel, which contains numerous accounts of his own as well as other refugees.
6. “The Wicked Old Man’ by William Butler Yeats
Yeats needed to make it here— especially with his reputation as one of the century’s greatest poets. Playing with themes of time and age, Yeats also effectively uses repetition in a way that just makes your heart lurch. Learn for yourself what makes Yeats so beloved this World Poetry Day.
5. “The Stranger in Her Feminine Sign” by Dunya Mikhail
An Iraqi American, Mikhail also acts as a translator in addition to a writer. She brings her experience to this poem here, which explores language in a new and engaging way. “The Stranger in Her Feminine Way” brings the emotional connection and dynamic form of poetry to Arabic and gender discussions. Mikhail delves into other themes such as war and exile in other works— all of which should be viewed this World Poetry Day.
4. “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou
Found in her larger collection of And Still I Rise, this inspirational poem exemplifies strength and power. Angelou was a beloved writer and civil rights activist who documented all she’s overcome throughout many works. Angelou demonstrates her perseverance and confidence in herself in each poem and this one is empowering her throughout all she’s faced. A great way to step into Angelou’s works, this will surely encourage you to find even more.
3. “The Lady of Shalott” by Alfred Lord Tennyson
Return to some Arthurian content in a way you haven’t experienced before. This beloved poet narrates the tragic story of the Lady of Shalott locked away in a tower, yearning for the world outside. With dazzling imagery and incredible rhymes, this story easily carries you all the way through.
2. “Happy Endings” by Shel Silverstein
Not all poets need to write seriously or, for that matter, for adults. World renowned children’s writer Shel Silverstein gifted all our childhoods with fantastic and hilarious poetry books. Whether you had Falling Up or Where the Sidewalk Ends in your elementary school, you surely remember his name. “Happy Endings” laments “There are no happy endings/ Endings are the saddest part, / So just give me a happy middle / And a very happy start.” Revisit some childhood favorites and add his humorous illustrations back into your life with this poem!
1. “Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman
This one’s long, but totally worth it. Whitman, of recent “I contain multitudes” fame, offers this and much more in this free verse poem. Everything from the atmosphere he melds to the word choice and imagery he chooses help bring the reader in— and force them to do some self-reflection.