In ‘Jazz Fantasia’ Carl Sandburg conveys his feelings about the rise of jazz music and Black culture in America.
’90 North’ by Randall Jarrell is concerned with dreams, aging, and the truth of success. The poet’s speaker realizes that success means nothing and that after achieving everything he wanted, his life is worthless.
‘Touch Me’ by Stanley Kunitz is a moving poem about aging, the loss of identity, and desire. It explores what keeps people, and creatures of all varieties, going as they enter the final “season” of their life.
‘The Lyric in a Time of War’ by Eloise Klein Healy is a poem about war, writing, and artistic cconnection throughout time. The poem is dedicated to how writing can create a connection between two people over time and space.
‘A Child is Something Else Again’ by Yehuda Amichai is a poem about parenthood and childhood. A child represents a great deal, the speaker says, and provides a parent with the will to live.
‘Who in One Lifetime’ by Muriel Rukeyser is a poem about resistance in the face of war and suffering. The speaker asserts that a woman referred to only as “she” is standing strong despite what she’s seen.
‘Peter Quince at the Clavier’ by Wallace Stevens is a musical depiction of the story of Susanna and the Elders from the Book of Daniel. It describes the “feeling” of “music” and the nature of beauty.
‘Abuelito Who’ by Sandra Cisneros is a powerful poem about the importance of family. The poem conveys the ways that illness and change within the family dynamic can have on a child.
‘Howl’ is Allen Ginsberg’s best-known poem and is commonly considered his greatest work. It is an indictment of modern society and a celebration of anyone living outside it.
‘Dear John, Dear Coltrane’ by Michael S. Harper describes musician John Coltrane’s life and alludes to the ways in which it influenced the poet’s work.
‘Clouds at Evening’ by Robinson Jeffers is a beautiful poem that speaks to the earth and considers the value of dreams vs. reality.
‘Patterns’ by Amy Lowell is an unforgettable poem about a woman’s loss during World War I. It describes the “patterns” of a speaker’s life and how, with the knowledge that her fiancé has died in the War, she’s doing to be confined to a far more sorrowful one.
‘A Brave and Startling Truth’ by Maya Angelou is a commonly quoted poem about humanity’s future. The poet alludes to the “truth” that humanity will arrive at when “we” realize we are the one true wonder of the world.
‘Persimmons’ by Li-Young Lee is a beautiful poem that describes the poet’s interest in language. It explores how a persimmon comes to symbolize both his family connections and his feelings of alienation from his peers.
How does it feel when the body and the soul are not in conjunction? Read Li-Young Lee’s meditative piece ‘Immigrant Blues’ to understand what it really feels like.
‘How to Like It’ by Stephen Dobyns was written in order to explore a man’s struggle to accept change as he ages. The poem uses humor and very relatable emotions in order to appeal to readers.
‘Singapore’ by Mary Oliver is a highly relatable poem that speaks about life’s struggles and the beauty of mundane and graceful work. It is set in an airport bathroom in Singapore.
‘Nightmare Begins Responsibility’ by Michael S. Harper is an unforgettable poem in which the speaker describes the loss of a child. While struggling to trust the doctors caring for his newborn son, the speaker watches on helplessly.
‘Grandfather’ by Michael S. Harper describes the treatment Harper’s grandfather endured and alludes to racism within the United States more generally.
‘Old Timers’ by Carl Sandburg speaks on the nature of war. Sandburg alludes to the ways in which history repeats itself no matter which country or time period one is in.
‘The Language of the Brag’ by Sharon Olds is an unforgettable poem about the strength and exceptionality of women’s bodies. It is set against the backdrop of giving birth.
‘Quid Pro Quo’ by Paul Mariani is a confessional poem that narrates a speaker’s anger and frustration at God subsequent to his wife’s second miscarriage.
Formerly known as ‘Poem of Procreation,’ Whitman’s ‘A Woman Waits for Me’ is all about the power of regeneration, procreation, and creativity.
‘Credo’ by Robinson Jeffers is a powerful poem that asserts the poet’s beliefs about humanity’s connection to the natural world and explores how they contrast with the main tenants of Transcendentalism.
‘The Legend’ by Garrett Hongo speaks on themes of alienation and the struggle of immigrants within the United States. It focuses on the symbolic death of an older, Asian man in Chicago.
‘The Bear’ by Galway Kinnell is an unforgettable poem that details the physical struggle between a hunter and a bear he’s pursuing as well as the hunter’s spiritual transformation.
In ‘Nikki-Rosa,’ Nikki Giovanni explores her experiences while growing up in a closely-knit black community in 1950s America.
‘Politics’ by William Butler Yeats is the last lyric poem Yeats wrote. It alludes to wars around the world including World War II which was to begin the year after this poem was written.
‘Snowfall in the Afternoon’ by Robert Bly is an interesting and multilayered poem. It uses natural imagery to describe a particular view of the world.
Delmore Schwartz’s ‘Baudelaire’ is an emotional depiction of a poet’s desperation caused by poverty and the vicious cycle of hopelessness.