T. S. Eliot’s ‘The Song of the Jellicles’ features the characteristics and nature of the Jellicle Cats, made famous by the musical adaptation, Cats by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
‘The Lesson’ by Roger McGough is an interesting and unique poem that depicts the result of a teacher’s built-up rage.
‘On Getting Out of Vietnam’, written by American poet Howard Nemerov, is a symbolic poem based on the US’s involvement in Vietnam War (1955-1975). It alludes to the Greek legend of Theseus and the Minotaur.
Written in 1717, Pope’s ‘On a Certain Lady at Court’ is about Catharine Howard, one of the waiting-women of Queen Caroline and a mistress to George II. Pope satirizes the lady’s qualities as she rejects his genuine love.
‘Cartoon Physics, part 1’ appears in Nick Flynn’s Some Ether (2000). This poem mocks the humorous concepts of animation that defy real physics and biology.
‘As I Was Going by Charing Cross’ was first recorded in the 1840s. But, it likely dates to an early decade. It’s thought that this nursery rhyme was likely shared through street cries or chants.
‘Not My Business’ by Niyi Osundare is a powerful, satirical poem that explores the consequences of staying silent in the face of oppression.
‘Hymn to the New Omagh Road’ by John Montague is a poem that uses the construction of a new road to show the influence of modernization on County Tyrone.
Wendy Cope’s ‘Lonely Hearts’ appears in her poetry collection “Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis”. This ironic piece talks about a speaker’s desperation over finding a perfect match in a lonely heart’s column.
‘Building the Nation’ is one of the best-known poems of the Ugandan poet Henry Barlow. This humorous piece comments on how nation-builders contribute to their country.
What happens when Kipling’s ideas in ‘The White Man’s Burden’ pierce the soul of the blacks? Then writers like H. T. Johnson pen down ‘The Black Man’s Burden’ in response to chauvinism, white supremacy, and racism.
‘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.
‘Once Upon a Time,’ written by the Nigerian poet Gabriel Okara, is a satirical poem on the modern way of greeting someone. The lack of compassion, simplicity, and brotherhood is portrayed in this poem.
‘No More Boomerang,’ a poem by the Aboriginal Australian political activist and poet Oodgeroo Noonuccal (also known as Kath Walker) features how the aboriginal culture is in crisis for the growing materialism and colonial hegemony.
To look back at a nation’s history from a poet’s perspective is an enriching exercise that enlightens modern readers regarding the follies and foibles of the age. Samuel Johnson’s ‘London’ is one such piece that throws light on the condition of 18th century England, especially London.
‘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.
When contemporary poets chose to glorify their loved ones by using hyperbolic expressions, Shakespeare preferred an unflattering and realistic tone in his ‘Sonnet 130’. The speaker of this sonnet ignores all the elevating epithets and stays in solace with his beloved as she is.