My favourite poems

April is national poetry month so I thought I’d seize the opportunity to post about my favourite poems. I occasionally write poetry but it always feels too personal to share. Plus I don’t think they’re actually very good. And I really can’t claim to be a poetry expert. I probably couldn’t tell you why a poem is good compared to on that isn’t but, much like art, I know what I like.

I first read this poem at school. It’s probably one that all English teachers share with their classes but it struck a cord with me and somehow it’s become one of my favourites. I can’t really explain why, it just moves me. And I guess that’s really all that matters.

Christina Rossetti – Remember

Remember me when I am gone away,
         Gone far away into the silent land;
         When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
         You tell me of our future that you plann’d:
         Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
         And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
         For if the darkness and corruption leave
         A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
         Than that you should remember and be sad.
 
The next poem is one that came to my attention through a book set at a boarding school by Anne Digby where someone stole someone’s poem with lines from this one included in it. I was reminded of it again reading John Green’s A Fault in our Stars. It is beautiful and tragic all at the same time.
 
Emily Dickenson – A certain shant of light
 
There’s a certain slant of light,
On winter afternoons
That oppresses, like the heft
Of cathedral tunes.Heavenly hurt it gives us;
We can find no scar,
But internal difference
Where the meanings, are.

None may teach it anything,
‘T is the seal, despair,
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the air.

When it comes, the landscape listens,
Shadows hold their breath;
When it goes, ‘t is like the distance
On the look of death.

I first heard this poem in the film Charlie St Cloud and I find it inspiring and hopeful.

E. E Cummings – Dive for dreams

dive for dreams
or a slogan may topple you
(trees are their roots
and wind is wind)
trust your heart
if the seas catch fire
(and live by love
though the stars walk backward)
honour the past
but welcome the future
(and dance your death
away at the wedding)
never mind a world
with its villains or heroes
(for good likes girls
and tomorrow and the earth)
in spite of everything
which breathes and moves, since Doom
(with white longest hands
neating each crease)
will smooth entirely our minds
-before leaving my room
i turn, and (stooping
through the morning) kiss
this pillow, dear
where our heads lived and were.

I found this poem through a blog a while ago and I’ve shared it before. Again I find it inspiring and I believe in its message.

Nobody but you – Charles Bukowski

nobody can save you but
yourself.
you will be put again and again
into nearly impossible
situations.
they will attempt again and again
through subterfuge, guise and
force
to make you submit, quit and /or die quietly
inside.

nobody can save you but
yourself
and it will be easy enough to fail
so very easily
but don’t, don’t, don’t.
just watch them.
listen to them.
do you want to be like that?
a faceless, mindless, heartless
being?
do you want to experience
death before death?

nobody can save you but
yourself
and you’re worth saving.
it’s a war not easily won
but if anything is worth winning then
this is it.

think about it.
think about saving your self.
your spiritual self.
your gut self.
your singing magical self and
your beautiful self.
save it.
don’t join the dead-in-spirit.

maintain your self
with humor and grace
and finally
if necessary
wager your self as you struggle,
damn the odds, damn
the price.

only you can save your
self.

do it! do it!

then you’ll know exactly what
I am talking about

It may not be classed as a poem but this Bible verse always struck me as having poetic sentiment and to me is more romantic than a lot of romance poems:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Cor 13:4-13

Finally, I had to include my favourite Shakespeare Sonnet:

#18

Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And Summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And oft’ is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d:
But thy eternal Summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wanderest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:

So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

What’s your favourite poem?

Victoria

xoxo

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31 thoughts on “My favourite poems

  1. The love chapter (bible) is wonderful…I like to read that sometimes and adore when it is read at weddings.
    Did you know there is a writing book called “Write it Slant” and they preface the poem in it because it is a way of seeing and when you write that way you reach out and touch people.

  2. One of my favorites is called Evening Solace by Charlotte Bronte.

    The human heart has hidden treasures,
    In secret kept, in silence sealed.
    The thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures,
    Whose charms were broken if revealed.
    And days may pass in gay confusion,
    And nights in rosy riot fly,
    While, lost in Fame’s or Wealth’s illusion,
    The memory o the Past may die.

    But there are hours of lonely musing,
    Such as in evening silence come,
    When, soft as birds their pinions closing,
    The heart’s best feelings gather home.
    Then in our souls there seems to languish
    A tender grief that is not woe;
    And thought that once wrung groans of anguish,
    Now cause but some mild tears to flow.

    And feelings, once as strong as passions,
    Float softly back–a faded dream,
    Our own sharp griefs and wild sensations,
    The tale of others’ suffering seem.
    Oh! When the heart is freshly bleeding,
    How longs it for that time to be,
    When through the mist of years receding,
    Its woes but lives in reverie!

    And it can dwell on moonlight glimmer,
    On evening shade and loneliness;
    And while the sky grows dim and dimmer,
    Feel no untold and strange distress –
    Only a deeper impulsive given
    By lonely hour and darkened room,
    To solemn thoughts that soar to heaven,
    Seeking a life and world to come.

  3. I once enjoyed Sylvia Plath’s poetry greatly, but I have never read many poems. A blogger i follow, writes amazing poetry and her’s is my first real excape into poetry. (bluesander.wordpress.com) I’ve begun to fiddle with it myself, trying to get some emotions out. I still find short stories to be my best way to do that.

    However,

    I loved the poem you shared called Nobody but you. I think it was something I needed to hear badly right now.

  4. Victoria, I love that Christina Rossetti poem. Still gives me a warm sad feeling. My favorite poem? So hard to pick. But this one I committed to memory because I loved it so much, so I guess it wins. 🙂

    When You Are Old
    By William Butler 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.

  5. Great dedication to National Poetry Month. You listed some wonderful poetry, and if I could get my hands on my Yeats book of poetry I’d share one here…he’s one of my favorite poets but I don’t know any by heart.

    I dabble in poetry, too, but don’t consider much of what I write is anything great. I would love to take a class in poetry to get a better understanding of rhythm/beat.

  6. I love this stuff. I must include some of my favourite lines,which come from W. H. Auden.

    “But in my arms from break of day
    Let the living creature lie
    Mortal, Guilty
    But to me the entirely beautiful”.

    I’ve always loved the acceptance and understanding in those words

  7. How to pick a favourite? One of my favourites is Rosseti’s Goblin Fair, http://theotherpages.org/poems/roset01.html.

    Or Pablo Neruda, Morning.

    Naked you are simple as one of your hands;
    Smooth, earthy, small, transparent, round.
    You’ve moon-lines, apple pathways
    Naked you are slender as a naked grain of wheat.

    Naked you are blue as a night in Cuba;
    You’ve vines and stars in your hair.
    Naked you are spacious and yellow
    As summer in a golden church.

    Naked you are tiny as one of your nails;
    Curved, subtle, rosy, till the day is born
    And you withdraw to the underground world.

    As if down a long tunnel of clothing and of chores;
    Your clear light dims, gets dressed, drops its leaves,
    And becomes a naked hand again.

    Seamus Heaney is another of my must reads too.

    Jim

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