‘Ode to a Nightingale,’ written in 1819, is one of John Keats’ six famous odes. It’s the longest, with eight 10-line stanzas, and showcases Keats’ signature style of vivid imagery and emotional depth, exploring themes like beauty and mortality.
My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
In this poem about perseverance and God’s guiding hand, William Cullen Bryant’s ‘To a Waterfowl’ depicts what it means to walk with strength and determination through life.
Whither, 'midst falling dew,
While glow the heavens with the last steps of day,
Far, through their rosy depths, dost thou pursue
Thy solitary way?
‘The Yellowhammer’s Nest’ by John Clare describes the beautiful and brutal world in which a yellowhammer makes its nest and lays its eggs.
Just by the wooden brig a bird flew up,
Frit by the cowboy as he scrambled down
To reach the misty dewberry—let us stoop
And seek its nest—the brook we need not dread,
‘The Raven’ is commonly considered to be Edgar Allan Poe’s poetic masterpiece. It details a harrowing night in the speaker’s life that includes incessant knocking and a talking raven that only says one word–“Nevermore.”
Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
Explore more poems about Birds
‘The Windhover’ is an incredibly important poem that Hopkins considered to be his best. It uses symbolism to speak about God and faith.
I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
‘The Nightingale’ is a unique love-lyric that exploits the classical myth of Philomel to morph the personal rue of a lovelorn heart into a superb piece of poetry.
O Philomela fair, O take some gladness,
That here is juster cause of plaintful sadness:
Thine earth now springs, mine fadeth;
Thy thorn without, my thorn my heart invadeth.
‘The Flock’ is a poem that meditates on the cyclical nature of time and the passage of the seasons. Through vivid imagery and a somber tone, the poet reflects on the inevitability of winter’s end, the unchanging nature of the world, and his own place within this cycle of time.
The grip of winter tightening, its thinned
volleys of blue-wing teal and mallard fly
from the longbows of reeds bent by the wind,
arrows of yearning for our different sky.
‘My Mother Would Be a Falconress’ by Robert Duncan explores a son and mother’s relationship through the lens of a falcon breaking free from his handler.
My mother would be a falconress,
And I, her gay falcon treading her wrist,
would fly to bring back
from the blue of the sky to her, bleeding, a prize,
‘Emmonsail’s Heath in Winter’ by John Clare is a beautiful nature poem that describes a specific area in Northamptonshire in winter. The poem focuses on plants and birds.
I love to see the old heath's withered brake
Mingle its crimpled leaves with furze and ling,
While the old heron from the lonely lake
Starts slow and flaps his melancholy wing,
‘Evening Hawk’ showcases Warren’s love for rich imagery and metaphysical symbolism. The hawk serves as a powerful vehicle for a series of revelations about our place in the universe.
Scythes down another day, his motion
Is that of the honed steel-edge, we hear
The crashless fall of stalks of Time.
‘Each and All’ by Ralph Waldo Emerson depicts nature as interconnected and dependent on all other living and non-living things. The poet uses a few clever examples to demonstrate why he sees the world this way.
Little thinks, in the field, yon red-cloaked clown,
Of thee from the hill-top looking down;
The heifer that lows in the upland farm,
Far-heard, lows not thine ear to charm;
‘A Hymn to the Evening’ by Phillis Wheatley describes a speaker’s desire to take on the glow of evening so that she may show her love for God.
Soon as the sun forsook the eastern main
The pealing thunder shook the heav'nly plain;
Majestic grandeur! From the zephyr's wing,
Exhales the incense of the blooming spring.
‘Bell Birds’ by Henry Kendall describes the beauty of a local wooded landscape and the passion and inspiration a speaker gains from its depths.
By channels of coolness the echoes are calling,
And down the dim gorges I hear the creek falling;
It lives in the mountain, where moss and the sedges
Touch with their beauty the banks and the ledges;