Your favorite poem ever

In this thread I invite you to mention the title and author of your favorite poem. Due to copyright issues, do not post the poem itself, unless it is old enough for it to have entered the public domain. People can look up the respective authors online, at the library or in bookstores. :slightly_smiling_face:


Does Hebrew poetry count? :wink:

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Psalm 104, Deuteronomy 32, Psalm 1, Psalm 2, Psalm 8, Beowulf, The Epic of Gilgamesh, On Ederachillis Shore. All are anonymous apart from the Biblical poems

Psalm 19 “The heavens declare the glory of God …” (NIV version - but who knows how this must have sounded in the original Hebrew!)

Of course while all of you are going all high-falutin, I’ll take my usual low-falutin (or maybe just falutin) route and throw in here “Smart” by Shel Silverstein from “Where the Sidewalk Ends” which begins:

“My dad gave me one dollar bill 'cause I’m his smartest son…”

For the full poem, click here.

Oh my word, “Smart” was my absolute favorite from “Where the Sidewalk Ends”… I laughed out loud for several minutes (as an adult). :smiley:

Maybe it’s our climate change discussions, but this pithy one from Robert Frost is a favorite:

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.


Ogden Nash, The Fly


I applaud you for worrying about copyright, but we’re generally okay posting a complete (short) poem on a site like this for discussion purposes. If you’re a blogger or just a fan of poetry, this short booklet on Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Poetry is a good guide. It was created by the American University Center for Social Media. The pertinent parts for our purposes:

Members of the poetry community believe that online forums are an important opportunity to build public awareness of poetry.

PRINCIPLE: Under fair use, an online resource (such as a blog or web site) may make examples of selected published poetry electronically available to the public, provided that the site also includes substantial additional cultural resources, including but not limited to critique or commentary, that contextualize or otherwise add value to the selections.

• Where a poet’s work is reasonably available for purchase in volume form,
compilers should restrict themselves to the use of single or isolated poems only.

I’ll come back and name a poem later. Or copy and paste it. :wink:

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Almost forgot to post my favorite poem! It qualifies for reasons other than stylistic, which I’ll explain at the end.

Seasons Crime
by Nicole G.

My hands leave my side and reach for yours,
Only to find myself grabbing the past –
Painful, rough, emotional.
Where is the soft, smooth, gentle skin
My hands long to touch?
The hands that gloved mine
During the chilling circulations
Of snow and wind, and wintertime?
The hands that brought me
Seashells with sincerity found
Beside the summer’s blue beaches?
The hands that helped me
Gather leaves without hesitation
As autumn came to an end?
Those fingers that wiped away
My tears and sadness altogether,
With arms that took away the pain?
The mind that taught me about love, hate, and life?
The heart that let me feel all the emotions in the world?
But those hands –
The hands that stole my heart,
Leaving fingerprints all over my life.

Nicole was my student in juvenile detention, which is why I can’t identify her. The poem is about her mother, who died when Nicole was in elementary school. I met her when she was 14 and locked up for prostitution for the first time. She was 17 when she wrote this poem, and I was shocked. The girl could not write an essay to save her life! Her incarceration this time around was different, though. She was in protective custody.

Nicole was living with a gang member and had a 1-yr-old child by him. They were at war with a rival gang, who killed a member of Nicole’s boyfriend’s crew. While they went looking for revenge, the other gang broke into the house and raped Nicole. It was a trap. They appeared to leave, but when she called her BF and the gang came rushing back to the house, the other crew ambushed them and killed everyone. The police found Nicole and her baby in the house.

Just another day in juvenile detention. Hope I didn’t kill the thread!


Pied Beauty, Gerard Manley Hopkins.

The line “He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change” pictures an amazing variety of earthly things, races, and creatures, all consecrated and holy, with differences illustrating in some way the complexity of their Source.

This was deeply moving. Thank you for caring. Her cry reminds me of the story of a child hung by the Nazis that Wiesel observed, “Where is God?..God is there.”
Also this from a street child in the Philippines to Pope Francis : Girl asks Pope: 'Why does God allow children to become prostitutes?'

This is the essence of true poetry, I think, to distill suffering into words that cause empathy and demand we change what we do and who we are.


I was aghast at first at the thought of only choosing one. But then @Laura spoke up for Robert Frost’s Fire and Ice and recently @Christy posted Kurt Vonnegut’s even pithier poem from his Cat’s Cradle novel elsewhere on the forums: Quote by Kurt Vonnegut: “Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly; Man got to ...”

So then that left me with the impossible choice between my favorite e.e. cummings poems. But while we’re going for pithy it occurred to me that William Blake’s Eternity fit the bill nicely.

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy
He who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sunrise

I notice that Blake’s and Vonnegut’s overlap just a little. But while Blake’s joy may indeed stop being joy when held too tightly, tigers don’t stop being what they are when they stop doing what is most essential for them, and neither do birds or men. It seems to me that the practice of science with its repeated testing, measuring and peer review is analogous to the tiger’s hunting; and as the tiger has got to sleep, science ‘at rest’ is analogous to the current consensus that results from all that activity.

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I’ve been very impressed with this pope. For an institution known for the glacial pace of its change it is as though global warming has gotten to the Catholic church.

My hands-down favorite of his. After that, Birches is easily my second favorite. Do you have another you’d recommend I read again?

Kill it? No, you crushed it. Extremely moving.

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My second favorite is probably “Acquainted with the Night.” I love the terza rima rhyme scheme, and the poem has always struck me as both sad and beautiful.

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.


At the conclusion of the Macdonald book I just finished: “Laird’s Inheritance” was the following poem, which I will gladly let stand in now as a favorite of mine here:

All things are shadows of thee, Lord:
      The sun himself is but a shade;
My soul is but the shadow of thy word,
      A candle sun-bedayed!

Diamonds are shadows of the sun;
      They drink his rays and show a spark:
My soul some gleams of thy great shine hath won,
      And round me slays the dark.

All knowledge is but broken shades—
      In gulfs of dark a wondering horde:
Together rush the parted glory-grades—
      And lo, thy garment, Lord!

My soul, the shadow, still is light,
      Because the shadow falls from thee;
I turn, dull candle, to the center bright,
      And home flit shadowy.

Shine, shine; make me thy shadow still—
      The brighter still the more thy shade;
My motion by thy lovely moveless will!
      My darkness, light delayed!


That is one to read out loud for sure. I’m not familiar with the terminology but would Poe’s The Raven be another example?

William Carpenter is a New England poet (from Maine, actually) who I first heard before I saw it in print. His doesn’t have the tight acoustic form but boy is it a lot of fun. Girl Writing a Letter is probably his most famous and deservedly, so imaginative. I also love the humor in his California, which contrasts the way romanticized places feel to those from harsher climes.

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No, terza rima is a rhyme pattern that requires three-line stanzas. The rhymes at the end of each follow a pattern of: ABA, BCB, CDC, DED, etc. But The Raven is another favorite too. :slight_smile:

Thanks for that recommendation – I hadn’t heard of William Carpenter before!


How interesting. I wonder if when you studied this you constructed some of your own?

The sheer quantity of what I don’t know no doubt already fills many volumes. Thanks for contributing to my ongoing education.

Oh, and it is very hard to find any of Carpenter’s work online. Pretty sure he is still alive and actively protects his work. But you can read Girl Writing A Letter here: I understand it was inspired by the famous heist of artwork from the Gardner museum.

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Right back at ya! I probably shouldn’t get carried away since the forum is aimed at science rather than literature, but it is fun to talk about poetry once in a while. I know at one point I wrote a parody of Frost’s poem called “Acquainted with Ice Cream,” but it was nothing special. :wink:


I’m not all that inclined to having “favorite things ever” because variety is the spice of life. A poet I have read lately and really enjoyed is Mary Oliver, a Pulitzer prize winning poet who passed away recently. Here are two of her poems I love.

You might see an angel anytime
and anywhere. Of course you have
to open your eyes to a kind of
second level, but it’s not really
hard. The whole business of
what’s reality and what isn’t has
never been solved and probably
never will be. So I don’t care to
be too definite about anything.
I have a lot of edges called Perhaps
and almost nothing you can call
Certainty. For myself, but not
for other people. That’s a place
you just can’t get into, not
entirely anyway, other people’s

I’ll just leave you with this.

I don’t care how many angels can
dance on the head of a pin. It’s
enough to know that for some people
they exist, and that they dance.

“Don’t Hesitate”
If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. We are not wise, and not very often
kind. And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this
is its way of fighting back, that sometimes
something happens better than all the riches
or power in the world. It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the
case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid
of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.


Don’t be a poetry tease. PM?