11 Poems Everyone Should Know

Chosen by Poetry Guide Bob Holman

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Here’s my list of 11 essential poems everyone should know—these are talisman poems, crucial revelations in my journey of exploration in the world of poetry.

“Patterns” by Amy Lowell (1916)

“I walk down the garden paths,
And all the daffodils
Are blowing, and the bright blue squills.
I walk down the patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown....”

“r-p-o-p-h-e-s-s-a-g-r” by E.E. Cummings (1935)

I cannot quote a single line from this poem—it’s a whole, a piece of typographical art. Just notice that the title is an anagram of “grasshopper,” and then see the poem itself.

“Wild Nights — Wild Nights!” (#249) by Emily Dickinson

“Wild Nights — Wild Nights!
Were I with thee
Wild Nights should be
Our luxury!”

“To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell (1681)

“Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love’s day...”

“The River Merchant’s Wife: A Letter” by Ezra Pound (1915)

“While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead
I played about the front gate, pulling flowers.
You came by on bamboo stilts, playing horse,
You walked about my seat, playing with blue plums...”

“Casey at the Bat” by Ernest L. Thayer (1888)

“The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play...”

“Harlem” by Langston Hughes (1951)

“What happens to a dream deferred?

    Does it dry up
    like a raisin in the sun?...”

“Pied Beauty” by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1918)

“Glory be to God for dappled things—
   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
      For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim...”

“To Every Thing There Is a Season,” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 from the King James Bible

“To everything, there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die...”

“Voyelles” (“Vowels”) by Arthur Rimbaud (1872)

“A Black, E white, I red, U green, O blue: vowels,
I shall tell, one day, of your mysterious origins...”

“Autopsychography” by Fernando Pessoa (himself)

“The poet is a faker
Who’s so good at his act
He even fakes the pain
Of pain, he feels in fact...”

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Snyder, Bob Holman & Margery. "11 Poems Everyone Should Know." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/poems-everyone-should-know-2725526. Snyder, Bob Holman & Margery. (2020, August 27). 11 Poems Everyone Should Know. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/poems-everyone-should-know-2725526 Snyder, Bob Holman & Margery. "11 Poems Everyone Should Know." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/poems-everyone-should-know-2725526 (accessed January 23, 2021).