“Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.”
“Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted.”
A fair majority loves the poetic world, so are you one of those? “The Most Interesting Poetic Works In Literature” is a little try to add some interesting poems into your lyrical rhythmic world.
So let us enjoy it.
The first one on our list is,
‘My Heart Leaps Up,’ by William Wordsworth
Wordsworth’s declaration that “the Infant is Father of the Man” neatly encapsulates the spirit of English Romanticism in this poem, lines from which he would also use as the epigraph to his longer “Ode: Intimations of Immortality.” The poem, however, is also an exultant celebration of the natural world’s beauty, as exemplified by the rainbow.
My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is the father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.
Ozymandias’ by Percy Shelley
‘Ozymandias,’ first published in The Examiner on January 11, 1818, is perhaps Percy Bysshe Shelley’s most popular and well-known poem. The poem is a haunting reflection on the decline of civilizations and the futility of all human endeavors. It is a sonnet about the remains of a statue standing alone in a desert – a desert that was once the great civilization of Ozymandias, ‘King of Kings.’ The poem was written as part of a rivalry between Shelley and his friend Horace Smith.
I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
‘I Heard a Fly Buzz – When I Died,’ Emily Dickinson
We might have chosen any of Emily Dickinson’s (1830-1886) short lyrics for this, but we went with this cryptic 16-line poem, which is spoken by a dead person and recounts how a fly appeared in the room at the moment of their death. Death is a common theme in Dickinson’s poetry, but she handles it here in a gloriously unique way.
I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air –
Between the Heaves of Storm –
The Eyes around – had wrung them dry –
And Breaths were gathering firm
For that last Onset – when the King
Be witnessed – in the Room –
I willed my Keepsakes – Signed away
What portions of me are
Assignable – and then it was
There interposed a Fly –
With Blue – uncertain stumbling Buzz –
Between the light – and me –
And then the Windows failed – and then
I could not see to see –
‘The Eagle,’ by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
The greatest Victorian poet, who served as Poet Laureate for 42 years between 1850 and 1892, captures the eagle’s might as it scans the land below it and then falls “like a thunderbolt” in just six lines.
He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt, he falls.
Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare
This sonnet is rightly celebrated as a masterpiece by England’s foremost poet, with one of the most famous opening lines in all of English poetry. But how many people are conscious that the sonnet immortalizes a young man’s beauty? To read the poem and learn more about its strange past, click on the link above.
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;
Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often 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 ow’st;
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
It was all our little try to unite pleasure with truth. If you like it forget not to share it with others.