Core Learning Poems

Wallace Stevens: “The Emperor of Ice-Cream”
By Austin Allen

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The chilly heart of a whimsical poem
John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester: “Upon Nothing”
By Stephen Burt

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What Jerry Seinfeld and a 17th century libertine have in common.
William Butler Yeats: “Easter, 1916”
By Ange Mlinko

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How the conflict of a nation was captured by a politically reluctant poet.
Philip Larkin: “The Whitsun Weddings”
By Joshua Weiner

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A Springtime train ride with brides and grooms.
Geoffrey Hill: “On Reading Crowds and Power” 
By Ange Mlinko

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A poet’s poet investigates the power of his readers.
John Donne: “A Valediction: of Weeping”
By Joel Brouwer

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Reality and representation mix in this classic poem.
Gwendolyn Brooks: “kitchenette building”
By Hannah Brooks-Motl

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The Chicago poet transports readers into a dream deferred.
Philip Sidney: Astrophil and Stella 63 (“O Grammar rules…”)
By Ange Mlinko

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An Elizabethan plays a Modernist language game
Juan Felipe Herrera: “Blood on the Wheel”
By Stephen Burt

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Tracing the many conflicting meanings of the word "blood"
Donald Revell: “The Northeast Corridor”
By Stephen Burt

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Chronicle of a poet's rebirth in his Rust Belt poems.
George Herbert: “Love (III)”
By Hannah Brooks-Motl

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A 17th-century poet’s project invites its readers to the table
Elizabeth Bishop: “The Moose”
By Toby Eckert

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How the poet devoted 20 years to immortalizing a moment in her classic poem.
W.S. Graham: “Dear Bryan Wynter”
By Hannah Brooks-Motl

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How a poem brings language to loss and speaks to the dead.
Elizabeth Alexander: “Race”
By Stephen Burt

POEM GUIDE SYNOPSIS
What can we assume when we read a poem?
John Keats: “La Belle Dame sans Merci”
By Martin Earl

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Beyond self-expression.
Elinor Wylie: “Wild Peaches”
By Caitlin Kimball

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An escape leads a young poet to confront her impulses.
John Ciardi: “A Trenta-Sei of the Pleasure We Take in the Early Death of Keats”
By Miller Williams

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Making the difficult look easy.
Elizabeth Drew Barrow Stoddard: “One morn I left him in his bed”
By Hannah Brooks-Motl

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The child elegy and the 19th-century poetess.
Agha Shahid Ali: “Tonight”
By Stephen Burt

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A contemporary take on an ancient Arabic form.
Linda Pastan: “The Deathwatch Beetle”
By Aimee Nezhukumatathil

POEM GUIDE SYNOPSIS
Pastan captures the sound of mortality while echoing Poe's “The Tell-Tale Heart.”

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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