Classic Poems
Classic Poems

Two Songs of Place and Displacement

Jacques Roumain’s “Guinea” and Giovan Francesco Vitale’s “Rome” imagine their settings as living things in history.

Feb. 18 2015 9:52 AMSymmetrical Lines and Social ComfortsSamuel Johnson’s simple, restrained poem is everything that death is not.
June 11 2013 8:15 AMAmerican Hero         William Carlos Williams’ poem “Dedication for a Plot of Ground” tells the ordinary and remarkable American immigrant story.
April 30 2013 9:15 AMWhen the Bard Had the Blues"If Shakespeare could feel depressed about his writing, then I'm certainly entitled to be depressed about mine."
March 19 2013 8:15 AMThe Intimacy of Walt Whitman’s “America”“What is a poet? He is a man speaking to men.”
Jan. 22 2013 9:19 AM“Where Ignorance Is Bliss, Tis Folly To Be Wise”David Lehman on why Thomas Gray’s “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College” is an overlooked poetic masterpiece.
Dec. 25 2012 10:31 AM"The Oxen"Robert Pinsky reads Thomas Hardy's Christmas poem.
Oct. 30 2012 7:15 AMThe Inventive Translations of Mary Sidney HerbertHow the Countess of Pembroke inspired John Donne.
Aug. 21 2012 3:33 AMA Taste for PlainnessThe simple perfection of the first American poet, Anne Bradstreet.
June 19 2012 5:45 AM"This Is the Favorite Poem"Hear Mike Wallace read Robert Browning’s “My Last Duchess.”
March 13 2012 3:30 PMSurf and TurfA 19th-century poem about a staring contest between a man and a fish.
Jan. 24 2012 6:30 AMTruth in DarknessHerman Melville is a master of conveying nature as a mysterious language we must speak but do not know.
Nov. 29 2011 6:27 AMGoing SomewhereHow poets like Walter Raleigh reported on the quick flickers and sudden changes in emotional life.
Oct. 4 2011 12:48 PMSpeaking in TonguesWhere pop meets Modernism.
July 26 2011 10:04 AMSeize the DayTwo poets race to make the most of their scarce time on Earth. 
May 3 2011 6:56 AMLullaby and LaughterThe strange appeal of George Gascoigne's self-inspecting humor.
Jan. 12 2015 9:03 AM“Always Is It Better Too Soon Than Never”A modern love poem in conflict with both love and poetry.
May 21 2013 8:00 AMLearning to Love the Poems of Edward ThomasAmid war, James Wright’s favorite poet found peace in nature.
April 9 2013 8:30 AMWith a Little Help From My FriendsRobert Bridges made Gerard Manley Hopkins a poetry superstar.
Feb. 12 2013 8:47 AMAwkwardly CharmingThomas Hardy and the strangeness of bad writing that is somehow good.
Jan. 1 2013 8:58 AM"The Darkling Thrush"Thomas Hardy's timely meditation on the turning of an era.
Dec. 11 2012 8:30 AMStruggling Against the DarkA poem for the winter solstice.
Sept. 25 2012 6:15 AMThe Mythic Love PoemWhere white-hot sexuality and white-hot hatred meet.
July 17 2012 6:30 AMA Poet by Any Other NameWho is “the speaker” and does it matter?
May 8 2012 6:15 AMLucrezia Borgia’s Hair and Forgotten NamesWalter Savage Landor can write a memorable poem about almost anything.
Feb. 14 2012 6:30 AMCrazy in LoveFor Valentine’s Day, a poem Ezra Pound called “the most beautiful sonnet in the language.”
Dec. 27 2011 2:56 PMThe Mystery of Vachel LindsayHow did the most visible poet in America—and a father of the Beats—become nearly forgotten?
Nov. 1 2011 7:18 AMIn Praise of Memorizing Poetry—BadlyWhat we learn by misremembering our favorite lines.
Aug. 30 2011 6:55 AMLost in CourtHow one of Ben Jonson's masterpieces found the world by leaving it behind.
June 28 2011 7:02 AMDamned GreatWhy are William Cowper's poems so witty? Because he was convinced he was going to hell.
March 22 2011 7:09 AMStreet PoetHow the often-overlooked Lola Ridge became one of America's first great urban Modernists.