William Stafford’s ‘An Introduction to Some Poems’ is about the role of budding poets. The speaker says that every life is worth writing about, and a writer’s work is to share “authentic” human experiences.
Published in Shadow Train (1981), John Ashbery’s ‘Hard Times’ is about the poet’s take on the modern world and its future. It showcases people’s ignorance of the issues that troubles Ashbery the most.
‘A Simile for Her Smile,’ written by the American poet Richard Wilbur, is a poem about finding the right simile for a loved one’s smile. It appears in Wilbur’s second collection of poetry, Ceremony, and Other Poems (1950).
Norman Dubie’s ‘The Funeral’ is about a speaker’s aunt who died of cancer. In this piece, the speaker shares one of the best memories with her.
‘when god lets my body be’ is a poem about the cycle of life and death. The poet E.E. Cummings describes how he wishes to be part of nature through death.
Philip Larkin’s poem, ‘Money,’ is a powerful critique of the consumerist culture inherent in modern society through the personification of money itself.
‘Sweeney among the Nightingales’ (1918), one of Eliot’s modernist poems, first featured the morally degraded, spiritually hollow, and libidinous character of Sweeney, who, in this poem, is seduced by prostitutes in a pub.
In ‘A Rolling Stone’, Robert Service reflects on the simple idea of getting away from the convoluted machinations of the modern world. The poem was published in Rhymes of a Rolling Stone in 1912.
Despite Wilfred Owen’s prodigious writing, only five poems were ever published in his lifetime – probably because of his strong anti-war sentiment, which would not have been in line with British policy at the time, particularly in their attempt to gather rather more and more people to sign up for the war.
‘Counter-Attack’ is perhaps Siegfried Sassoon’s longest poem that describes a failed counter-attack on the German line. From the very first stanza, a sense of hopelessness lurks in this poem.
The best inspirations for poetry, or any art, really, as with the case of Owen’s ‘1914,’ come from anything that is real and important in the life of the writer.
Wilfred Owen wrote ‘A Terre’ about the aftermath of the war. In it, a soldier reminisces about his days before the war – the days when he had full functionality of his limbs, and could do whatever he wanted – to an unknown listener, most likely a young and influential boy.
‘Introduction to Poetry’ by Billy Collins is a beautiful poem that speaks about the nature of poetry. The poet considers how poetry should be appreciated and comprehended.