Reality

Root Cellar by Theodore Roethke

‘Root Cellar’ by Theodore Roethke is a short eleven-line poem that describes a variety of disgusting and smelly plant life that exists within a speaker’s root cellar.

Root Cellar by Theodore Roethke Visual Representation

Two or Three Wishes by Carl Dennis

‘Two or Three Wishes’ belongs to Carl Dennis’s poetry collection Ranking the Wishes (1997). This piece is about the veracity of imagination and the role of truth.

Two or Three Wishes by Carl Dennis Visual Representation

Allegory of the Cave by Stephen Dunn

In this poem, Stephen Dunn alludes to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave or Plato’s Cave by the same title. This piece raises a number of philosophical questions with respect to the political history of the 20th century.

Allegory of the Cave Stephen Dunn Visual Representation

Beware: Do Not Read This Poem by Ishmael Reed

‘Beware: Do Not Read This Poem’ by Ishmael Reed is a thoughtful poem about culture and how language is used to tell stories. The poem warns against becoming too consumed within one method of storytelling.

Beware- Do Not Read This Poem by Ishmael Reed

Sonnet 148 by William Shakespeare

‘Sonnet 148,’ also known as ‘O me! What eyes hath Love put in my head,’ uses figurative language to describe the speaker’s state of mind. He’s blinded to his mistress’s faults, just like the sun becomes blinded by rain and clouds.

Zoom! by Simon Armitage

‘Zoom!’ by Simon Armitage is a thoughtful poem about the vast nature of the universe. It also emphasizes the tiny role humans have to play in it.

Zoom! by Simon Armitage

The Harlem Dancer by Claude McKay

‘The Harlem Dancer’ by Claude McKay is a thoughtful poem about a dancer’s inner life. It speaks on the duality of what people see and what people experience.

The harlem dancer by claude mckay

Harlem Shadows by Claude McKay

‘Harlem Shadows’ by Claude McKay memorably addresses the lives of Black sex workers in Harlem. The poet describes their experience while also acknowledging their strength.

harlem shadows by claude mckay

Decomposition by Zulfikar Ghose

‘Decomposition’ is written by the Pakistani-American poet Zulfikar Ghose. This poem centers on a photograph of an old beggar sleeping on the pavement and contrasts artistic composition with physical decomposition.

Decomposition by Zulfikar Ghose Visual Representation

Cinderella by Roald Dahl

‘Cinderella’ by Roald Dahl retells the story of Cinderella and how rather than marrying the Prince, she ends up with a lovely man who makes jam. 

The Year by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

‘The Year’ by Ella Wheeler Wilcox is a six stanza poem that is divided into sets of two lines, also known as couplets. She goes on in the second half of the poem to list out additional parts of life in order to show their connection and simultaneous presence.

Meru by William Butler Yeats

‘Meru’ by William Butler Yeats describes the illusion of civilization and the importance of embarking on a spiritual journey.

Low Barometer by Robert Bridges

‘Low Barometer’ by Robert Bridges describes a world in which ghosts are brought from the afterlife into the present during a storm. 

The Swan by John Gould Fletcher

‘The Swan’ by John Gould Fletcher describes the movements of a swan within a body of water and a speaker’s desire to escape his life. 

Song by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

‘Song’ by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is made up of a speaker’s plea that his “heart” remain indoors and avoid the brutal real world.

Barbie Doll by Marge Piercy

‘Barbie Doll’ by Marge Piercy was inspired by the traditional girl’s toy, the Barbie Doll. It explores themes of feminism and expectations.

A Pæan by Edgar Allan Poe

‘A Pæan’ describes the feelings experienced by a husband as he views his dead wife and his desire to sing a “pæan” rather than a “requiem.”

My Fancy by Lewis Carroll

‘My Fancy’ by Lewis Carroll is a poem where confusion and exaggeration are offered to show a distinct variation between expectation and reality.

Snowdrop by Ted Hughes

‘Snowdrop’ by Ted Hughes is a poem that uses juxtaposition and uncertainty to express the commotion that occurs at the end of life.

Skin by Philip Larkin

‘Skin’ by Philip Larkin speaks on the importance of a person’s identity. Specifically, he is concerned with the influence and biographical aspects of the skin.

Friesian Bull by Gillian Clarke

‘Friesian Bull’ by Gillian Clarke is a tale of a bull that is angry at his current state of being locked in his “brick and concrete stall”.

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