Today is World Poetry Day, so in typical Rachel fashion, I thought I’d dedicate a blog post to it. As you may know, I am currently studying English Literature, and whilst I do not want a career in this field, literature is a HUGE passion of mine, especially poetry. So, I thought I’d share five of my most favourite poems (it has been SO hard to knuckle it down to just five)…so without further ado, here it goes!
- First up is ‘A Birthday’ by Christina Rossetti. I was first introduced to Rossetti a few years back by my English teacher. She adored Rossetti and could recite her poetry off by heart in front of the class. I don’t know what the other students thought of that, but I thought it was amazing, and always remember thinking how much I’d like to be able to recite poetry off the top of my head. Throughout A-Levels, I didn’t really come across Rossetti, but when I began my degree Rossetti was everywhere, and I could not have been happier. ‘A Birthday’ is just one of my favourite Rossetti poems.
My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a water’d shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these
Because my love is come to me.
Raise me a dais of silk and down;
Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
Is come, my love is come to me.
- Next up is William Carlos Williams. Williams is a poet I was introduced to in my Poetry class in the first year of my degree. I actually hated him to start with, I was used to longer, more lyrical poems, and some of his are quite the opposite, but it wasn’t long until I fell in love with the beautiful simplicity of this particular poem…it’s short and sweet and reads like a note left for a loved one.
‘This Is Just To Say’
- Third on my list is John Donne. I adore Donne. I know lots of people detest him, but I could read him all day. I fell in love with his work after being introduced to it in university, and my favourite by far is this. It is a gorgeous poem full of love and desire, about two lovers waking up next to each other. It is truly beautiful.
- Next is Philip Larkin. I studied Larkin at AS Level, so really you’d think I would hate him (especially after sitting that exam twice!) but I adore him. He is so dark and depressing in most of his poetry (which I do actually love) but my most favourite poem of his is ‘Broadcast’. Hopefully you can see how it is not like his usual dark and dreary work…
Giant whispering and coughing from
Vast Sunday-full and organ-frowned-on spaces
Precede a sudden scuttle on the drum,
‘The Queen’, and huge resettling. Then begins
A snivelling of the violins:
I think of your face among all those faces,
Beautiful and devout before
Cascades of monumental slithering,
One of your gloves unnoticed on the floor
Beside those new, slightly-outmoded shoes.
Here it goes quickly dark. I lose
All but the outline of the still and withering
Leaves on half-emptied trees. Behind
The glowing wavebands, rabid storms of chording
By being distant overpower my mind
All the more shamelessly, their cut-off shout
Leaving me desperate to pick out
Your hands, tiny in all that air, applauding.
- Last, but by no means least is Maya Angelou. I seem to be the only person who has never really studied Angelou in depth, so this poem was a bit of discovery by myself. This is one of the most empowering pieces of language I have ever come across, every time I read it I get shivers and my eyes well up. If there is no other poem you read in your life, please just read this.
‘Still I Rise’
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I hope you’ve all enjoyed today’s post. What are your favourite poems? 🙂